TDS must deduct on interest payment even if it is not claim deduction

Inevitable TDS obligation even if deduction for impugned exp. is not claimed  
 
Assessee is liable to deduct tax at source on interest payments, even if it has not claimed same as deduction while computing its total income

Facts:

a) The assessee-company credited interest to its sister concern’s account without deducting tax under section 194A. The Assessing Officer treated assessee as an 'assessee-in-default' and levied interest on it under section 201(1A);

b) On appeal before the CIT (A), the assessee contended that it could not be treated as an 'assessee-in-default', when it had not claimed interest amount as expenditure. The CIT (A) dismissed the assessee's appeal. Aggrieved assessee filed the instant appeal.

The Tribunal held in favour of revenue as under:

1) Provisions of section 194A(1) provide that the person responsible to pay the interest is liable to deduct tax at source at the time of credit or payment, whichever is earlier. Since the section uses the term 'any income by way of interest', it should be viewed from the angle of the payee and not from the angle of the person making the payment;

2) The accounting or tax treatment given by the payer in respect of interest paid by him may not be relevant at all for the purposes of section 194A. So long as the interest amount constitutes "income" in the hands of recipient, the payer shall be liable to deduct tax at source on the interest amount so paid;

3) Thus, even if the payer had disallowed the expenditure under section 40(a)(ia) or did not claim the same as expenditure at all, he would still be liable to deduct tax at source under section 194A on the interest amount so paid, if the said payment was liable to TDS;

4) Further, the provisions of section 40(a)(ia) do not override the provisions of section 201. It provides only for deferment of the allowance and does not provide for absolute disallowance. Its objective appears to be to compel the assessee to deduct tax at source in order to claim the relevant expenditure as deduction;

5) Section 201 provides for treating an assessee as an assessee-in-default who has failed to deduct or pay the TDS amount. Its objective is only to compensate the Government for the failure of an assessee to deduct or pay the TDS amount;

6) Thus, the provisions of section 40(a)(ia) and section 201 operate on different objectives. Accordingly, the assessee was liable to deduct tax at source on interest payments, even if it had not claimed the same as deduction while computing its total income. The revenue was entitled to initiate proceedings under section 201 for such failure. Thus, the order of CIT(A) was to be upheld - AGREENCO FIBRE FOAM (P.) LTD V. ITO(TDS) (2013) 38 taxmann.com 155 (Cochin - Trib.)
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