Case Law: Maxopp Investment Ltd vs. CIT (Supreme Court)

S. 14A/ Rule 8D – Applicability to shares held for controlling interest or as stock-in-trade: The argument that S. 14A & Rule 8D will not apply if the “dominant intention” of the assessee was not to earn dividends but to gain control of the company or to hold as stock-in-trade is not acceptable. S. 14A applies irrespective of whether the shares are held to gain control or as stock-in-trade. However, where the shares are held as stock-in-trade, the expenditure incurred for earning business profits will have to be apportioned and allowed as a deduction. Only that expenditure which is “in relation to” earning dividends can be disallowed u/s 14A & Rule 8D. The AO has to record proper satisfaction on why the claim of the assessee as to the quantum of suo moto disallowance is not correct

The first and foremost issue that falls for consideration is as to whether the dominant purpose test, which is pressed into service by the assessees would apply while interpreting Section 14A of the Act or we have to go by the theory of apportionment. We are of the opinion that the dominant purpose for which the investment into shares is made by an assessee may not be relevant. No doubt, the assessee like Maxopp Investment Limited may have made the investment in order to gain control of the investee company. However, that does not appear to be a relevant factor in determining the issue at hand. Fact remains that such dividend income is non-taxable. In this scenario, if expenditure is incurred on earning the dividend income, that much of the expenditure which is attributable to the dividend income has to be disallowed and cannot be treated as business expenditure. Keeping this objective behind Section14A of the Act in mind, the said provision has to be interpreted, particularly, the word ‘in relation to the income’ that does not form part of total income. Considered in this hue, the principle of apportionment of expenses comes into play as that is the principle which is engrained in Section 14A of the Act Read the rest of this entry »