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Hypothetical tax not an income accruing in India
November, 24th 2008
n a recent judgment involving a foreign national, the Mumbai Income Tax Tribunal has held that hypothetical tax paid by an employer on behalf of the taxpayer is not an income accruing in India and can be claimed as a deduction by the employee from the gross salary. The assessee, Roy Marshall, was an employee of British Airways. In the computation of total income in the tax return, the assessee deducted hypothetical tax withheld by his employer from gross salary. According to the contract agreement, the company had to bear additional tax burden arising out of his services in India and the assessee would bear only that part of the tax which he would have required to pay in his home country. During the year, the assessees salary income was Rs 77 lakh and the company reimbursed Rs 35 lakh towards tax liability. Total income of the assessee thus became Rs 1.12 crore and with the maximum marginal rate of 44.8 per cent, the total tax liability came to Rs 50 lakh. The company had paid Rs 35 lakh, so the balance tax liability of Rs 15 lakh was borne by the assessee. Though the taxpayer had paid his total tax dues in India, the income-tax assessing officer held that the hypothetical tax (Rs 35 lakh) should also form a part of the salary income. This became a bone of contention as the assessee may take a hit in his home country. According to the provisions of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, the person may have taken a credit of Rs 15 lakh Indian taxes paid on an income of Rs 77 lakh in his home country tax return. However, if he would have to show that his salary income was Rs 1.12 crore in India, there could have been additional tax burden on him in his home country. The tribunal relied on the judgment on a similar case of Jaydev H Raja, wherein it was held that the hypothetical tax does not form a part of the salary income taxable in India and the appellant was justified in reducing the same from his taxable salary. It was held by the tribunal that income arising in India in the hands of the taxpayer is the actual salary plus the incremental tax liability arising on account of the Indian assignment. The amount of hypothetical tax withheld from the salary of the taxpayer is not an income accruing to him in India. The ruling further held that as long as tax is paid on the income accruing in India, it is not relevant if the taxpayer takes credit of Indian taxes in his home country tax return. Accordingly, the tribunal held that no deduction was actually claimed by the assessee on account of hypo tax as otherwise misconceived by the revenue authorities and deleted the addition made on this count.
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