ITAT Delhi ruled that exemption cannot be denied for providing hostel facilities to staff & students
Fact and Issue of the case
The assessee Society is duly registered under Society Registration Act, 1860. The Society has been granted registration u/s 12AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 vide order dated 15/6/1995. The Society has also been granted exemption u/s 80G of the Act vide order dated 18/6/2010 for the period from 1/4/2010. The Society is running various educational institutions. The return of income was filed on 17/8/2010 for Assessment Year 2010-11 declaring NIL income. The Assessing Officer made assessment of surplus of Hostel as business income u/s 114(A) of the Act and disallowed hostel expenses amounting to Rs. 3,92,25,432/- and made addition under the head income from business and profession.
Being aggrieved by the assessment order, the assessee filed appeal before the CIT(A). The CIT(A) dismissed the appeal of the assessee.
Observation of the Tribunal
The court has heard both the parties and perused all the relevant material available on record. There is delay of 32 days in filing the present appeal which was explained by the Ld. AR at the time of hearing, the same is genuine, hence the delay is condoned. The assessee is a Society running Educational Institutes, Medical Colleges and Charitable Hospitals which is affiliated with All India Counsel for Technical Education. It is also undisputed that assessee is carrying educational activity and running various Colleges especially Medical Colleges and Charitable Hospitals. The income from charitable activities declared by the assessee was NIL and the assessee earned gross receipt of Rs. 61,62,60,476/- on account of educational activity whereas the assessee is also running hostels for the students as per the UGC Guidelines which is an ancillary activity. In case of Krishna Charitable Society vs. Addl. CIT in ITA No. 4639/Del/2015 for AY 2011-12 dated 15.09.2017, the Tribunal held as under:
11. They have carefully considered the rival contentions and perused the orders of the lower authorities and other judicial pronouncement placed before us. In the grounds no. 1 – 3 assessee is contesting that addition made by the Ld. AO treating hostel places provided to college student as business of the society and text the alleged surplus of Rs. 98,87,873/- as business income of the assessee. It was not the case of the revenue that assessee has rented out these hostels to the students who are not parted education in the above institutes. It was also not the case of revenue that assessee is primarily engaged in the business of providing hostel facilities to the students. The above issue is no more res Integra in view of the decision of the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court in CIT vs. Karnataka Lingayat Education Society in ITA No. 5004/2012 dated 15/10/2014 wherein it has been held that providing hostel to the students/staff working for the society’s incidental to achieve the object of providing education, namely the object of the society. In view of this tribunal are of the opinion that providing of hostel facilities and transport facilities to the student and staff member of the educational Institute cannot be considered as business activity but is subservient to the object of educational activities performed by the society. Tribunal also supported by the view of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court in IT vs. State of UP (1976) 38 STC 428 (All) wherein question arose in Indian Institute of Technology vs. State of UP (1976) 38 STC 428 (All) with respect to the visitors’ hostel maintained by the Indian Institute of Technology where lodging and boarding facilities were provided to persons who would come to the Institute in connection with education and the academic activities of the Institute. It was observed that the statutory obligation of maintenance of the hostel, which involved supply, and sale of food was an integral part of the objects of the Institute nor could the running of the hostel be treated as the principal activity of the Institute. The Institute could not be held to be doing business.
Further means being supplied in a hostel to the scholars, visitors, guest faculty etc. cannot be eligible to sales tax where main activity is academics as held in scholars home Senior Secondary School 42 VST 530. Further, the reliance placed by the lower authorities on the decision of the Hon’ble Madras High Court in case of DCIT vs. Wellington Charitable Trust is also misplaced because in that case, the only activity of that particular trust was renting out of the property and not education. Tribunal is also not averse to considering the latest legal developments too where in the recently introduced new legislation of Goods and service tax it is provided that no GST would be chargeable on the hostel fees etc. recovered from the students, faculties and other staff for lodging and boarding as they are engaged in education activities. Therefore, tribunal reverse the finding of the lower authorities and held that transport and hostel facilities surplus cannot be considered as business income of the assessee society which is mainly engaged in business activities and these activities are subservient to the main object of education of the trust.”
In the absence of any evidence to show that the hostel facilities were provided to anybody other than students and staff of the trust, the hostel facilities provided by the educational institution shall be construed to be the intrinsic part of the ‘educational activities’ of the assessee and they cannot be considered different than activities of the society of ‘education’. Thus, the addition amounting to Rs. 3,92,25,432/- made by the Assessing Officer and sustained by the CIT(A) is not correct. The CIT(A) and the Assessing Officer failed to consider that the hostel facility is incidental to achieve the object of providing education as per object of the trust and hence comes under the charitable purpose which is exempt under Section 11 of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Thus, the appeal of the assessee is allowed.
The court ruled in favour of the petitioner and allowed the appeal.
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