«For the Appellant : Shri J.M.Thard, Advocate For the Respondent : Shri Pinaki Mukherjee, JCIT, Sr.DR Date of Hearing : 18.12.2015. Date of ...»
IN THE INCOME TAX APPELLATE TRIBUNAL, BENCH “B”, KOLKATA
[Before Hon’ble Shri N.V.Vasudevan, JM & Shri Waseem Ahmed, AM]
Assessment Year : 2006-07
Limtex Tea & Industries Ltd. -versus- Asstt. C.I.T., Circle-4
(PAN:AAACL 5207 H)
(APPELLANT ) (RESPONDENT)
For the Appellant : Shri J.M.Thard, Advocate
For the Respondent : Shri Pinaki Mukherjee, JCIT, Sr.DR Date of Hearing : 18.12.2015.
Date of Pronouncement : 15.1.2016.
ORDER Per Shri N.V.Vasudevan, JM This is an appeal by the Assessee against the order dated 10.1.2014 of CIT(A)IV, Kolkata, relating to AY 2006-07.
2. The Assessee is a company. It carries on the business of manufacturing Tea. The Assessee manufactures and sells tea. The Assessee procures tea leaves from tea gardens and produces tea in its factory. During the previous year the Assessee received a sum of Rs.23,26,506 as subsidy under the “Quality Upgradation and Product Diversification Scheme” (hereinafter referred to as “the Scheme”). The Scheme was introduced by the Tea Board and Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. The question before the AO was as to whether the subsidy received by the Assessee was capital in nature not chargeable to tax or was revenue in nature, chargeable to tax. The AO held that the subsidy in question received by the Assessee under the Scheme was revenue in nature and was therefore taxable. Over and above that the AO also reduced the value of subsidy from the “actual cost” of the machinery on which depreciation has to be allowed. Under Explna-10 to Sec.43(1) of ITA No.854/Kol/2014 Limtex Tea & Industries Ltd.
A.Yr.2006-07 the Act, which defines “Actual Cost” for the purpose of allowing depreciation, subsidy received from the Government or any other person, to meet the cost acquisition of asset on which depreciation is claimed should be reduced from the actual cost of the said asset for the purpose of allowing depreciation. The said
Explanation-10 reads thus:
“Explanation 10 – Where a portion of the cost of an asset acquired by the assessee has been met directly or indirectly by the Central Government or a State Government or any authority established under any law or by any other person, in the form of a subsidy or grant or reimbursement (by whatever name called), then so much of the cost as is relatable to such subsidy or grant or reimbursement shall not be included in the actual cost of the asset to the assessee:Provided – that where such subsidy or grant or reimbursement is of such nature that it cannot be directly relatable to the asset acquired, so much of the amount which bears to the total subsidy or reimbursement or grant the same proportion as such asset bears to all the assets in respect of or with reference to which the subsidy or grant or reimbursement is so received, shall not be included in the actual cost to the assessee.”
3. The subsidy received by the Assessee was Rs.23,26,506. The AO however took the difference in the opening and closing balance of Profit and Loss account in the balance sheet of Rs.3,84,60,617 and Rs.3,64,11,186, which is a sum of Rs. 20,49,431 as the value of the subsidy and brought to tax the aforesaid sum by including it as part of the total income of the Assessee. The AO reduced Rs.3,48,976 which is 15% of Rs.23,26,506 from the depreciation that has to be allowed to the Assessee under the Income Tax Act,1961 (Act) in accordance with Expln.10 to Sec.43(1) of the Act.
4. Aggrieved by the order of the AO, the Assessee preferred appeal before CIT(A).
The CIT(A) after noticing the objective of the Scheme upheld the order of the AO.
The CIT(A) held that the scheme is only for Tea quality up-gradation. It does not envisage any setting up of a new unit or expansion of the existing unit. It aims to improve the quality of tea through technology upgradation. It also envisages replacement of old and worn out machinery and equipment. Therefore by virtue of the scheme a new unit or expansion of an existing unit does not happen. The scheme and the subsidy given thereunder is only for the purpose of enabling the Assessee to carry on its business more profitably and therefore, the subsidy received by the Assessee was revenue in nature, chargeable to tax. In doing so, the learned CIT(A)
5. Aggrieved by the order of the CIT(A), the Assessee has preferred the present appeal before the Tribunal.
6. The learned counsel for the Assessee firstly pointed out that the subsidy received by the Assessee was Rs.23,26,506. The AO however took the difference in the opening and closing balance of Profit and Loss account in the balance sheet of Rs.3,84,60,617 and Rs.3,64,11,186, which is a sum of Rs. 20,49,431 as the value of the subsidy and brought to tax the aforesaid sum by including it as part of the total income of the Assessee.
7. He next pointed out that the AO reduced Rs.3,48,976 which is 15% of Rs.23,26,506 from the depreciation that has to be allowed to the Assessee under the Income Tax Act,1961 (Act) in accordance with Expln.10 to Sec.43(1) of the Act.
According to him, once the AO comes to the conclusion that the subsidy received was utilized for acquiring depreciable asset than the inevitable conclusion is that the subsidy in question is capital subsidy and therefore the same cannot be brought to tax.
According to him the subsidy in question is to facilitate the tea factories to upgrade/replace/renovate the old and worn out machinery by purchasing new machines in order to manufacture quality tea and therefore the subsidy in question has to be regarded as capital receipt not chargeable to tax. He drew our attention to the Scheme under which subsidy was granted to highlight the purpose of the scheme. He
placed reliance on the following decisions:
(i) The Hon’ble Supreme in CIT, Madras vs. Ponni Sugars & Chemicals Limited, Civil Appeal No.5694 to 5715 of 2008,  174 Taxman 87 (SC) wherein it was that, `It is the object for which subsidy/assistance is given, that truly determines nature of subsidy. The character of the receipt in the hands of the assessee has to be determined with respect to the purpose for which the subsidy is given. In other words, in such cases one has to apply the `Purpose Test’. The point of time when the subsidy
8. The total value of machinery purchased/installed by the Assessee was Rs.93,06,024. The machineries were installed during the financial year 2003-04 relevant to AY 04-05. 25% of the cost of the machinery viz., Rs.23,26,506 was received by the Assessee as subsidy.
9. His next submission was that, if the value of the subsidy is treated as revenue receipt chargeable to tax, than the value of the subsidy in question cannot be reduced from the block of depreciable assets and depreciation allowed on the value as so reduced, which will reduce the claim of depreciation which the Assessee had made.
His submission was that the amount given as subsidy cannot be said to be “cost of an asset acquired by the assessee met directly or indirectly by the Central Government or a State Government or any authority established under any law or by any other person, in the form of a subsidy or grant or reimbursement (by whatever name called)” and therefore Explanation 10 to Sec.43(1) of the Act will not be attracted.
10. He drew our attention to the fact that the Finance Act, 2015 with effect from 01/04/2016 has inserted of Sub-Clause (xviii) in Section 2(24) of the Income Tax Act,
11. The aforesaid amendment is prospective and applicable w.e.f. 1-4-2016.
According to him prior to the aforesaid amendment, if a subsidy was regarded as revenue subsidy and was given for the purpose of meeting the cost of acquiring fixed assets than the Assessee will suffer the burden of having to pay tax on the subsidy and further the cost of fixed assets will also be reduced by virtue of Explanation 10 to Sec.43(1) of the Act. According to him one of the purpose of the aforesaid amendment was to ensure that the Assessee does not suffer such double detriment.
Since the purpose of the amendment is to remove hardship and difficulty the same should be held to be applicable retrospectively. In this regard reliance was placed by him on the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Alom Extrusion 319 ITR 306(SC).
12. The learned DR relied on the order of the CIT(A). According to him, the only issue that was raised by the Assessee before CIT(A) and in the grounds of appeal before Tribunal, is with regard to the question whether the subsidy is capital or revenue. The Assessee has accepted the fact that the subsidy will go to reduce the cost of acquisition of the fixed assets and therefore the question that needs to be answered only as to whether the subsidy in question is capital or revenue. He placed reliance on the order of the CIT(A) on the issue.
13. We have given a very careful consideration to the rival submissions. The only issue to be decided in this appeal, as rightly contended by the learned DR, is as to
14. The tests to be applied to decide the question whether a subsidy received by an Assessee has to be regarded as capital or revenue subsidy has been laid down in several decisions of Hon’ble Supreme Court and Hon’ble High Courts. The Hon’ble Supreme in CIT, Madras vs. Ponni Sugars & Chemicals Limited, Civil Appeal No.5694 to 5715 of 2008,  174 Taxman 87 (SC) has held that, `It is the object for which subsidy/assistance is given, that truly determines nature of subsidy. The character of the receipt in the hands of the assessee has to be determined with respect to the purpose for which the subsidy is given. In other words, in such cases one has to apply the `Purpose Test’. The point of time when the subsidy is paid is not relevant.
The source is immaterial; the form of subsidy is also immaterial. If the object of the subsidy scheme was to enable the assessee to run the business more profitably, then the receipt was on revenue account. On the other hand, if the object of the assistance under the subsidy scheme was to enable the assessee to set up a new unit or to expand its existing units, then the receipt of the subsidy was on capital account. Therefore, it is the object for which the subsidy/assistance is given which determines the nature of incentive subsidy. The form of the mechanism through which the subsidy is given is irrelevant.
15. It would also be of immense merit to refer to another judgement of the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court in the case titled Commissioner of Income Tax vs. Rasoi Limited  335 ITR 438, wherein it has been held by the Hon’ble Court by making a due reference to the judgement of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case titled Commissioner of Income Tax vs. Ponni Sugars & Chemicals Ltd  174 Taxman 87 (SC) that one time subsidy received as a percentage of sales tax paid for modernization and expansion purposes would constitute a capital receipt not subject to the rigours of tax under the Income Tax Act, 1961. The Hon’ble Calcutta High Court further held that merely because subsidy received was equivalent to a substantial percentage of the
16. Keeping in mind the principles laid down in the aforesaid decisions referred to by the learned counsel for the Assessee, we shall now see the objects of the Scheme under which the Assessee received subsidy in the present case.
Objective of the Scheme:
Objective of the scheme is to facilitate the tea gardens/factories towards production of good quality of tea suiting eminently to the tastes and preferences of the consumers. In order to fetch remunerative returns for the tea sold, the processing of it in the tea factories should be geared up by replacement of old and worn out machinery and equipment. Replacement of machineries has to be regular exercise depending upon the working condition of the machineries. This should receive greater attention as with efflux of time not only there is need to modernize factories but take up new technologies developed in the recent years in the fields of automation, electronics and use energy saving devices. Since there is always good demand for the quality teas, modernization and technology upgradation assumes added significance. Accordingly this scheme has been formulated to provide financial assistance to the needy tea gardens/factories for renovating as well as augmenting the processing capabilities including, creation of facilities for packaging and bagging, and produce diversification. At present, only 35 to 40% of tea is sold in package form and the rest in the form of loose tea. During the 10th plan period, thrust would be on more value realization. For this purpose, proper infrastructure needs to be created for improving not only the packaging standards but also for increasing the volume of value added teas and specialty teas such as green teas, flavoured teas, ready to drink teas etc.
Towards this end, it is proposed to provide for subsidy for the packaging machineries and creating facilities for product diversification. Because of the high variability in the quality of tea produced, there is a greater need for evolving appropriate quality-market matching. For this the process of manufacture needs to undergo changes to suit to the ITA No.854/Kol/2014 Limtex Tea & Industries Ltd.
A.Yr.2006-07 emerging new markets. Moreover, quality assurance should be the USP in the emerging completive environment. To facilitate the tea growers and manufacturers to participate in the quality improvement programmes such HAACP and ISO certification, it is proposed to provide incentives to the tea factories and packaging units opting for participation in certification programmes. Keeping the above objectives in view, this scheme has been formulated. In order to provide an impetus to take up quality upgradation works in the right earnest, the Board through this scheme proposes to extend financial assistance by way of subsidy @ 25% of the actual cost.