Judicial Dictionary

‘Payable’ in Section 40(a)(ia) of Income Tax Act, 196 means

Income Tax Act, 1961 – Section 40(a)(ia)

The word ‘payable’ in Section 40(a)(ia) would mean only when the amount is payable and not when it is actually paid. Grammatically, it may be accepted that the two words, i.e. ‘payable’ and ‘paid’, denote different meanings. The Punjab & Haryana High Court, in P.M.S. Diesels & Ors., referred to above, rightly remarked that the word ‘payable’ is, in fact, an antonym of the word ‘paid’. At the same time, it took the view that it was not significant to the interpretation of Section 40(a)(ia). Discussing this aspect further, the Punjab & Haryana High Court first dealt with the contention of the assessee that Section 40(a)(ia) relates only to those assessees who follow the mercantile system and does not cover the cases where the assessees follow the cash system. Those contention was rejected in the following manner:

“19. There is nothing that persuades us to accept this submission. The purpose of the section is to ensure the recovery of tax. We see no indication in the section that this object was confined to the recovery of tax from a particular type of assessee or assessees following a particular accounting practice. As far as this provision is concerned, it appears to make no difference to the Government as to the accounting system followed by the assessees. The Government is interested in the recovery of taxes. If for some reason, the Government was interested in ensuring the recovery of taxes only from assessees following the mercantile system, we would have expected the provision to so stipulate clearly, if not expressly. It is not suggested that assessees following the cash system are not liable to deduct tax at source. It is not suggested that the provisions of Chapter XVII-B do not apply to assessees following the cash system. There is nothing in Chapter XVII-B either that suggests otherwise.

20. Our view is fortified by the Explanatory Note to Finance Bill (No. 2) of 2004. Sub-clause (ia) of clause (a) of Section 40 was introduced by the Finance Bill (No. 2) of 2004 with effect from 01.04.2005. The Explanatory Note to Finance Bill-2004 stated:-

“….. ….. ….. ….. ..

With a view to augment compliance of TDS provisions, it is proposed to extend the provisions of section 40(a)(i) to payments of interest, commission or brokerage, fees for professional services or fees for technical services to residents, and payments to a resident contractor or sub-contractor for carrying out any work (including supply of labour for carrying out any work), on which tax has not been deducted or after deduction, has not been paid before the expiry of the time prescribed under sub-section(1) of section 200 and in accordance with the other provisions of Chapter XVII-B. ……”

The same view was taken by a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in Commissioner of Income Tax v. Crescent Export Syndicate, (supra). It was held:-

“12.3. It is noticeable that Section 40(a) is applicable irrespective of the method of accounting followed by an assessee. Therefore, by using the term `payable’ legislature included the entire accrued liability. If assessee was following mercantile system of accounting, then the moment amount was credited to the account of payee on accrual of liability, TDS was required to be made but if assessee was following cash system of accounting, then on making payment TDS was to be made as the liability was discharged by making payment. The TDS provisions are applicable both in the situation of actual payment as well of the credit of the amount. It becomes very clear from the fact that the phrase, `on which tax is deductible at source under Chapter XVII-B’, was not there in the Bill but incorporated in the Act. This was not without any purpose.”


PALAM GAS SERVICE  Vs. COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX [SC]

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