ITAT Bangalore: Employee Contribution To PF/ESI of AY 2019-20 paid before ITR Filing is allowed as expense
Fact and Issue of the case
The assessee is a Private Limited Company. The assessee filed return of income for AY 2019-20 declaring total income of Rs.Nil. In an intimation dated 29.06.2020 issued u/s.143(1) of the Act, the Centralized Processing Centre (CPC) added a sum of Rs. 46,87,690/- representing employees’ share of contribution to ESI to the extent not paid on or before the due date as mentioned in Sec 36(1)(va) of the Income Tax Act 1961. It was the case of the assessee that employees’ share of ESI has been paid before the due date for filing of return u/s.139(1) of the Act (this fact is not in dispute) and hence has been considered allowable on the basis of decision of Supreme Court in CIT vs. Alom Extrusions Ltd (2009) 319 ITR 306 (SC) and other cases such as CIT Vs Magus Customers Dialog (P) Ltd (Kar), CIT Vs Sabri Enterprises (2008) 298 ITR 141 (Kar), Consultants India P Ltd Vs CIT Bangalore III (2013) 597/34.
Observation of the Tribunal
The Hon’ble Karnataka High Court in the case of Essae Teraoka Pvt. Ltd., (supra) has taken the view that employee’s contribution under section 36(1)(va) of the Act would also be covered under section 43B of the Act and therefore if the share of the employee’s share of contribution is made on or before due date for furnishing the return of income under section 139(1) of the Act, then the assessee would be entitled to claim deduction. Therefore, the issue is covered by the decision of the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court. In this case there is no dispute that the assessee made payment of the Employees share of PF/ESI on or before the due date for filing return of income for AY 2017-18 u/s. 139(1) of the Act. The next aspect to be considered is whether the amendment to the provisions to section 43B and 36(1)(va) of the Act by the Finance Act, 2021, has to be construed as retrospective and applicable for the period prior to 01.04.2021 also. On this aspect, we find that the explanatory memorandum to the Finance Act, 2021 proposing amendment in section 36(1)(va) as well as section 43B is applicable only from 01.04.2021. These provisions impose a liability on an assessee and therefore cannot be construed as applicable with retrospective effect unless the legislature specifically says so. In the decisions referred to by us in the earlier paragraph of this order on identical issue the tribunal has taken a view that the aforesaid amendment is applicable only prospectively i.e., from 1.4.2021. We are therefore of the view that the impugned additions made under section 36(1)(va) of the Act, deserves to be deleted. The learned DR submitted that in the event of Hon’ble Supreme Court taking a view as taken by the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court in the case of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation, the Revenue shall be at liberty to seek rectification. The prayer so made is accepted, subject to statutory limitations, if any. In the result, appeal of the assessee is allowed.
The Court disposed off the appeal and ruled in favour of the assessee