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Allowability of liability under “long service award” scheme

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Court :
HIGH COURT OF DELHI

Brief :
The provision for a liability is amenable to a deduction if there is an element of certaintly that it shall be incurred and it is possible to estimate the liability with reasonable certainty even though the actual quantification may not be possible.

Citation :
CIT v Insilco Limited ITA NO. 873/2008 & 1156/2008

5. Having heard the learned counsel for the Revenue as well as the assessee, we are of the view that no fault can be found with the reasoning of both the CIT(A) as well as the Tribunal. In our view, the issue raised by the Revenue before us that the liability under the “long service award” scheme of the assessee is contingent as the payment under the same scheme is dependent on the discretion of the management is a submission which deserves to be rejected at the threshold. It is well settled that if a liability arises within the accounting period, the deduction should be allowed though it may be quantified and discharged at a future date. Therefore, the provision for a liability is amenable to a deduction if there is an element of certainty that it shall be incurred and it is possible to estimate the liability with reasonable certainty even though the actual quantification may not be possible as such a liability is not of a contingent nature. See Bharat Earth Movers (supra). The principles enunciated above have been applied by the Supreme Court also in the case of Metal Box Company (supra) wherein the Supreme Court was considering the question whether estimated liability under gratuity schemes were amenable for deduction from gross receipts shown in the profit and loss account. The observation of the Supreme Court being pertinent are extracted herein below:- “But the contention was that though Schedule VI to the Companies Act may permit a provision for contingent liabilities, the Income Tax Act, 1961, does not, for under Section 36(v), the only deduction from profits and gains permissible is of a sum paid by an assessee as an employer by way of his contribution towards and approved gratuity fund created by him for the exclusive benefits of his employees under an irrevocable trust. This argument is plainly incorrect because Section 36 deals with expenditure deductible from out of the taxable income already assessed and not with deductions which are to be made while making the P. & L. Account. In our view, an estimated liability under gratuity schemes such as the ones before us, even if it amounts to a contingent liability and is not a debt under the Wealth-tax Act, if properly ascertainable and its present value is fairly discounted is deductible from the gross receipts while preparing the P. & L. Account. It is recognised in trading circles and we find no rule or direction in the Bonus Act which prohibits such a practice.”
 

CA Devanshi Gandhi (Ajani)
on 20 March 2009
Published in Income Tax
Views : 2054
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