House given to father as a “Colorable device”; denies receiving proper Section 54F benefit
Fact and issue of the case
Brief facts of the case are that the assessee is an individual and has filed his return of income for the A.Y 2015-16 on 13.11.2015. A revised return in response to notice issued u/s 142(1) on 10.11.2017 declaring an income of Rs.7,80,890/- under the head House Property, Business, Capital Gains and Income from Other Sources. The return of income was processed u/s 143(1) of Income Tax Act, 1961 and the case was selected for limited scrutiny under CASS. The assessee produced relevant record and information before the Assessing Authority and the Assessing Authority ultimately passed the impugned assessment order for the said Assessment Year 2015-16 u/s 143(3) dated 29.12.2017 by disallowing exemption u/s 54F of Rs.2,63,67,705/- and assessed the total income at Rs.2,71,48,595/-.
It is the contention of the Ld. AR before us that the Ld. assessing officer and the Ld. CIT(A) had wrongly concluded that the gift deed executed by the assessee in favour of his father was a colourable device and it was executed only with a view to evade the due taxes and that assessee had wrongly claimed the exemption under section 54F of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
Observation of the court
The Assessing Officer in the paragraph reproduced above have concluded that the gift deed though executed on 27.10.2014, was a colourable device as it was executed by the assessee just three days prior to entering into an agreement of sale. The conduct of the assessee, to gift the property to his father, just prior to entering into an agreement of sale raises doubt about the intention of the assessee. A perusal of clause 11 of the Gift Deed, copy of which is placed at Pages 23-28 of the paper book shows that Rs.2,20,000/- towards stamp duty and registration fee had been paid by the assessee vide Demand Draft No.317588 dt.12.01.2015 of Canara Bank, M.J. Market Branch, Hyderabad after execution of Agreement of Sale dt.03.11.2014 and just prior to purchase of asset on 30.01.2015. Quiet clearly, assessee was aware of the Income Tax provisions and was also aware that the assessee would not be entitled to the benefit of section 54F of the Act, if he had more than one residential house in his name before investing. In the present case, the assessee has shown the house property income from two houses, namely, oneself occupied (at Door No.3-6-305/43,43/1, Avanthi Nagar, Basheerbagh, Hyderabad) and one let out (at Sy.No.52 & 53, Saheb Nagar, Khurd Village, LB Nagar, Hyderabad). However, the assessee has gifted the house at Door No.3-6-305/43,43/1, Avanthi Nagar, Basheerbagh, Hyderabad by virtue of the gift deed to his father, just before entering into an agreement of sale and had claimed the deduction u/s. 54F, after investing the proceeds received by him in respect to property in survey Nos.114 & 115 situated at Gagan Pahad village in buying the residential house property at Road No. 47, Plot no.946, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. The Assessing Officer had brought on record that the assessee had two residential properties before purchasing the residential house property at Road No.47, Plot no.946, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad.
From the conduct of the assessee and in view of the circumstances prevailing at the time of the agreement of sale, more particularly giving gift to his father just before the date of agreement, it is clear that the act of the assessee to gift the house is nothing but a concerted effort to avoid the due payment of taxes to the Government. With a view to avoid the payment of taxes, the assessee surreptitiously gifted the house at Door No.3-6-305/43,43/1, Avanthi Nagar, Basheerbagh, Hyderabad to his father just before entering into agreement of sale and received the consideration of Rs.2,28,38,880/- on 3.11.2014 and Rs.2,11,41,120/- on 03.11.2014. Though, gift deed, on a standalone basis seems to be a natural act on the part of son to gift home to his father, but when the gift deed is to be examined in the light of the prior and subsequent acts and prevailing circumstances, then it is clear that the real intention of the assessee, was to claim the deduction u/s. 54F of the Act. Further, the assessee before and subsequent to gifting the property, continued to live with his father in the same property, which clearly shows that the gift deed executed by the assessee was merely a camouflage to claim the deduction u/s. 54F of the Act and to avoid due payment of taxes to the Government. Undoubtedly, tax evasion connotes illegally suppressing facts, falsifying records, fraud or collusion to evade tax liability with the help of such unfair means. Whereas abusive tax avoidance involves ‘contrived’ or ‘artificial’ schemes. In the present case, the assessee was engaged in the artificial transfer of one house by way of gift deed just prior to the effective date. Further, under sections 23 and 24 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, when the object is to defeat any provisions of law, and when consideration is of such nature that, if permitted, it would defeat the provisions of any law, the contract will be void. In the present case, per se gift deed was not executed on account of natural love and affection but was executed by the assessee to artificially avail the deduction u/s 54F of the Income Tax Act 1961.
We cannot countenance the assessee’s conduct and allow the assessee to misuse and exploit the beneficial provisions of section 54F of the Act. Undoubtedly, as per the assessee, he is an individual having a high net worth and paying huge taxes. The assessee artificially created a gift deed of the property with a view to fit into the provisions of section 54F, so that he can claim the deduction against the sale of capital asset. The act of the assessee was prearranged step for execution, and it served no commercial purpose but was motivated to avoid paying taxes.
In view of the above, the orders passed by the assessing officer and ld.CIT(A) were within the four corners of law and do not require any interference. The decisions relied upon by the assessee are distinguishable on facts and do not apply to the facts of the present case. Accordingly, the appeal of the assessee is dismissed.
In the result, the appeal of the assessee is dismissed.
Order pronounced in the Open Court on 15th March, 2023
In the result, appeal of the assessee is allowed and ruled in favour of the assessee
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