Login ID:
Password:

Forgot Password?
New user? Free SignUp
Enrolment Forms
Online Payment Polls
Library
My Library
Right to Information Clinic

The Journal of the BCAS-the BCAJ has an online Avatar.

Jhancar - ‘Togetherness & Networking Carnival’ for Chartered Accountants

48th Residential Refresher Course

Tax Audit Workshop (Advanced)

Lecture Meeting on International & Domestic Transfer Pricing - Recent Developments

2nd Youth Residential Refresher Course

More Events...

Useful Links
Bulletin Board
WE CA
Chat Room
   

BCA Journal
October 2014 Journal Index
Oct 14

 
  Archives   Subscribe Now  
    Latest Publication
GITA FOR PROFESSIONALS-2ND EDITION(In English)
 
  By
Price: Rs.75/-
 
Other Publications

Asset acquired by previous owner — Cost indexation

Subject : Income Tax Law
Month-Year : Feb 2008
Author/s : Pradip Kapasi
Gautam Nayak
Chartered Accountants
Topic : Asset acquired by previous owner — Cost indexation
Article Details :

1. Issue for consideration :

1.1 In computing gains arising on the transfer of a long-term capital asset, S. 48 of the Income-tax Act requires deduction of the indexed cost of acquisition of the capital asset from the sale consideration. The indexed cost of acquisition is computed by multiplying the cost of acquisition by the ratio of the cost inflation index for the year of transfer to the cost inflation index for the first year in which the asset was held by the assessee or for 1981-82, whichever was later.

1.2 When a capital asset is acquired by an assessee by gift, inheritance, partition of a Hindu Undivided Family or under any of the other modes specified in S. 49(1), or some other modes specified in certain clauses of S. 47, under Explanation 1 to S. 2(42A), the period for which the asset was held by the earlier owner or in the earlier form is also to be included as part of the holding period of the assessee for determining whether the capital asset is a long-term capital asset or a short-term capital asset.

1.3 U/s.49(1), where the capital asset became the property of the assessee on distribution on partition of an HUF, under a gift or will, by succession, inheritance or devolution, on distribution on dissolution of a firm prior to 1st April 1987, on distribution of assets on liquidation of a company, under a transfer to a revocable or irrevocable trust, or under transfers referred to in S. 47(iv), (v), (vi), (via), (viaa), (vica) or (vicb), the cost of acquisition of the previous owner is deemed to be the cost of acquisition of the assessee.

1.4 U/s.55(2)(b)(ii), where a capital asset became the property of the assessee by any of the modes specified in S. 49(1), and the capital asset was acquired by the previous owner prior to 1st April 1981, the assessee is entitled to substitute the fair market value of the asset as on 1st April 1981 for the actual cost.

1.5 The question has arisen before the Tribunal in various cases as to how the indexed cost is to be computed in cases where the capital asset became the property of the assessee by any of the modes specified in S. 49(1) — whether the indexation is to be considered from the year in which the asset was first acquired by the previous owner, or from the year in which the asset was first acquired by the assessee. While some Benches of the Tribunal have held that since the cost as well as the period of holding of the previous owner are to be taken for computing the capital gain, the indexation of cost is also to be taken from the first year of holding of the previous owner, while one Bench of the Tribunal has taken a contrary view that the indexation of cost is to be taken from the first year of holding of the assessee, and not of the previous owner.

2. Kishore Kanungo’s case :

2.1 The issue had arisen in the case of Deputy CIT v. Kishore Kanungo, 102 ITD 437 (Mum.).

2.2 In this case, the HUF of which the assessee was a coparcener had entered into an agreement in March 1981 for acquisition of a flat for Rs.11.01 lakhs, which was under construction. The construction of the flat was completed in 1988, when possession of the flat was taken by the HUF. The HUF was partitioned in the financial year 1991- 92, whereby the assessee and another coparcener became the owners of the flat.

2.3 The assessee claimed the fair market value as on 1st April 1981 of Rs.33.73 lakhs as the cost of acquisition, and claimed cost indexation from that year, on the ground that the asset was held by the previous owner (the HUF) prior to 1st April 1981.

2.4 The Assessing Officer computed the capital gain by taking the cost of Rs.11.01 lakhs, and granted indexation from the financial year 1991-92, the first year in which the asset was held by the assessee himself. The Commissioner (Appeals) allowed the assessee’s appeal, holding that the assessee was entitled to adopt the fair market value as on 1st April 1981, since the previous owner (the HUF) had acquired the asset on 16th March 1981, and that the assessee was entitled to indexation from the date of acquisition of the property by the HUF and not from the date of partition of the HUF.

2.5 Before the Tribunal, on behalf of the Department, it was pointed out that the agreement dated 16th March 1981 was for acquisition of a flat which was yet to be constructed, that the construction commenced in 1978 and was completed in 1988. It was submitted that the HUF was not the owner of the property as on 1st April 1981, because the property was not ready by that time and most of the payments were made after that date. It was argued that cost indexation was only available from the year of partition of the HUF, as S. 49 dealt only with cost of acquisition and not the year from which indexation was allowable. It was also argued that Explanation 1(b) to S. 2(42A) only applied for determination of whether the asset was a short-term capital asset or a long-term capital asset, and not for the purpose of indexation as per Explanation (iii) to S. 48.

2.6 On behalf of the assessee, it was argued that the HUF acquired the property on 16th March 1981 as per the agreement. Alternatively, since shares in the Society were allotted on 12th November 1981, that was the date of acquisition.

2.7 The Tribunal held that the capital asset of the right to obtain title and possession of the flat was different from the capital asset of the flat itself. Since the construction of the flat was completed in 1988, it held that the HUF became the owner of the flat from that year, and therefore the assessee was not entitled to substitute the fair market value as on 1st April 1981 for the actual cost.

2.8 As regards the cost indexation, the Tribunal held that in view of the express provisions of Explanation (iii) to S. 48, the cost inflation index for the first year in which the asset was held by the assessee was to be considered. In the opinion of the Tribunal, this year was 1991-92, the year in which the partition of the HUF took place. The Tribunal therefore held that cost indexation was available only from the first year from which the asset was held by the assessee, not by the previous owner.

3. Mina Deogun’s case :

3.1 The issue again came up for consideration before the Kolkata Bench of the Tribunal in the case of Smt. Mina Deogun v. ITO, 19 SOT 183 (Kol.).

3.2 In this case, the assessee’s father had acquired a property, in 1958. He expired in 1968, whereupon the assessee’s mother became the owner of the property. The mother expired in September 1999, resulting in the assessee and her three sisters inheriting the property as co-owners. The property was sold during the previous year relevant to assessment year 2004-05.

3.3 The assessee substituted the fair market value of the property as at 1st April 1981 for the cost of acquisition and claimed cost indexation from the financial year 1981-82. The Assessing Officer, besides disputing the fair market value as on 1st April 1981, allowed cost indexation only from the financial year 1999-2000. The Commissioner (Appeals) agreed with the Assessing Officer that cost inflation index applicable to the financial year 1999-2000 was to be adopted as the base, since in that year, the assessee first held the asset on the demise of her mother.

3.4 Before the Tribunal, on behalf of the assessee, it was pointed out that the assessee’s mother was the owner of the property as on 1st April 1981, and that as per S. 2(42A), the assessee was deemed to have held the property since 1958 for determining the period of holding. It was submitted that if S. 2(42A), S. 47(ii), S. 49(1)(iii)(a) and S. 55(2)(b)(ii) were cumulatively and harmoniously read, then, in case of succession, the date of acquisition, the cost of acquisition, and the period of holding were to be computed with reference to the acquisition of the capital asset by the first previous owner, and therefore different considerations could not apply for the purpose of applying the base cost inflation index. It was argued that if the cost inflation index was adopted with reference to the year of succession, while cost was taken as of 1st April 1981, it would lead to absurd results. Placing reliance on CIT v. Lakshmi Machine Works, 290 ITR 667 (SC), it was argued that in interpreting the words used in the formula contained in S. 48, a schematic interpretation should be adopted, and not a literal interpretation.

3.5 The Tribunal observed that if, for the purposes of determining the period of holding by the assessee, the period for which the asset was held by the previous owner is included, then different considerations could not be applied for the purpose of S. 48. It noted that the scheme of taxation with respect to inherited assets was that where an assessee sold an inherited capital asset, the capital gain was computed with reference to the period of holding and the cost of acquisition incurred by the previous owner, since inheritance or succession was not regarded as a transfer.

3.6 According to the Tribunal, a co-joint reading of the Memorandum explaining the Finance Bill, 1992 (when indexation of cost was introduced) and CBDT Circular No. 636, dated 31-8-1992, showed that indexation was to be allowed in respect of the period of holding of the asset, and not in relation to the individuality of the assessee. Intermediate transfers on account of succession were to be ignored.

3.7 The Tribunal therefore held that the cost inflation index applicable to 1981-82 was to be applied, and not the index applicable to 1998-99. The Tribunal also agreed with the decisions of the Tribunal in the cases of Mrs. Pushpa Sofat v. ITO, 81 ITD 1 (Chd.) (SMC) and Deputy CIT v. Smt. Meera Khera, 2 SOT 902 (Mum.), where a similar view had been taken by other Benches.

4. Observations :

4.1 The Kolkata Bench of the Tribunal rightly considered the overall scheme of computation of capital gains, of which cost indexation is a part. The very purpose of cost indexation, as clarified by the Explanatory Memorandum to the Finance Bill, 1992, is that where an asset has been held for a long period of time, 75% of the impact of inflation is to be neutralised while computing the capital gains.

4.2 In cases of succession, etc., the intermediate transfers by gift, inheritance, partition of HUF, etc. are ignored, since these are transfers without any consideration. For all practical purposes, the ultimate owner is regarded as having held the asset from the date of its first acquisition for a consideration by an earlier owner, and his cost is also taken on the same basis. Under such circumstances, it could certainly not be the intention of the Legislature to deny the benefit of indexation for the period of holding by the previous owner.

4.3 Taking of indexation from the date of receipt of gift, inheritance, etc. is therefore illogical, and against the very scheme of computation of capital gains. It would result in an absurd situation whereby the inflation neutralisation which was available to a previous owner is denied to a subsequent owner for no rhyme or reason, though the subsequent owner is regarded as having stepped into the shoes of the previous owner for all other practical purposes of computation of capital gains.

4.4 As held by the Supreme Court in Lakshmi Machine Works’ case (supra) relating to the computation of deduction u/s.80HHC, wherever a formula is prescribed, the purpose and workability of the formula has to be seen. As held by the Supreme Court, while interpreting the words used in the formula, a schematic interpretation has to be resorted to, and not a literal interpretation, to ensure that the results obtained from the application of the formula achieve the intended objective, and are not absurd.

4.5 Applying the ratio of this decision of the Supreme Court to the computation formula for capital gains in cases of sale after receiving the asset by gift, succession, partition of HUF, etc., the inescapable conclusion is that the cost indexation has to be taken from the year of acquisition by the previous owner, and not from the year of acquisition by the seller by gift, inheritance, partition of HUF, etc.

4.6 Therefore, the view taken by the Kolkata, Chandigarh and Mumbai (in Meera Khera’s case) Benches of the Tribunal seems to be the better view of the matter.

Add to My Library

Back to Article Listings

Click here to Refer for more Related Items

Resource Material  
Articles and Features  
More...
Circulars  
  Modifications Applicable to Private Companies unde... 
More...
Drafts, Forms  
Tribunal Board  
Budget 2014  
Vice-President Communique  
Holidays for BCAS  
E-Book  
Annual Report  
BCAS Brochure  
Recent Case Laws  
Representations  
Supreme Court cases  
Tribunal-Rept. Cases  
Tribunal-Unrep.Cases  
Advance ruling  
High Court Cases  
Tribunal - International Tax Decision  
E-Newsletter  
Events  
Thought Mailer  
BCAS Hall Booking  
     
Disclaimer
Privacy Policy
Food for Thought