S. 271(1)(c): CAs opinion does not necessarily make claim bona fide
The assessee obtained the opinion of a Chartered Accountant on whether expenditure on fees to the Registrar of Companies for increasing authorized capital can be claimed as revenue expenditure. The CA relied on judicial precedents and opined that the issue was debatable and a claim could be made on the basis that if two views were possible, the view in favour of the assessee should be taken. The assessee claimed deduction and even the tax auditor did not qualify the same. The AO relying on Punjab State Industrial Development Corp 225 ITR 792 (SC) & Brooke Bond 225 ITR 798 (SC) disallowed the claim and levied s. 271(1)(c) penalty which was upheld by the CIT (A). Before the Tribunal, the assessee pleaded that as it had relied on the opinion of an expert in making the claim, its action was bona fide & penalty could not be levied. HELD dismissing the appeal:
In view of the two decisions of the Supreme Court which held the field when the return was filed, the claim was patently disallowable. The claim was also not discernible on the face of the record and the details of expenses had to be gone into in order to decipher the claim. The argument that the assessee does not have expertise in taxation matters and so it relied on expert opinion is not acceptable because the opinion was furnished for accounting purposes. An accountants view is not really material for deciding the deductibility or otherwise of an expenditure. The assessee knew about the problem at the time of filing of return, but still made the claim. Not only this, the claim was pursued even up to the level of the CIT (A) in gross disregard for the decision of the Supreme Court, which the assessee came to know at least after receiving the assessment order. Therefore, the claim was not only wrong but also false and it was persisted with for some time. The fact that the assessee did not even seek explanation from the tax auditor or the CA gave the impression that the whole thing was a sham.