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CIT vs. Groz Beckert Asia Ltd (P&H High Court Full Bench)
February, 19th 2013

Expenditure on corporate membership of club is revenue expenditure

The assessee obtained corporate membership of the Golf Club on payment of Rs.6 lakhs. The AO disallowed the expenditure on the ground that it was capital expenditure. This was reversed by the CIT(A) & Tribunal which held that the expenditure was revenue in nature. The department filed an appeal to the High Court and relied on Majestic Auto Ltd where the High Court had held that expenditure on corporate membership is in the nature of capital expenditure. As the Bench was of the view that Majestic Auto was not the correct law, the issue was referred to the Full Bench. HELD by the Full Bench:

In order to decide whether the expenditure is a revenue or a capital one has to look at the expenditure from a commercial point of view. Not every advantage of enduring nature constitutes capital expenditure. What is material to consider is the nature of the advantage in a commercial sense and it is only where the advantage is in the capital field that the expenditure would be disallowable. If the advantage consists merely in facilitating the assessee’s trading operations or enabling the management and conduct of the assessee’s business to be carried on more efficiently or more profitably while leaving the fixed capital untouched, the expenditure would be on revenue account, even though the advantage may endure for an indefinite future. On facts, the corporate membership was for a limited period of 5 years. It was obtained for running the business with a view to produce profit. Such membership does not bring into existence an asset or an advantage for the enduring benefit of the business. It is an expenditure incurred for the period of membership and is not long lasting. By subscribing to the membership of a club, no capital asset is created or comes into existence. By such membership, a privilege to use facilities of a club alone, are conferred on the assessee and that too for a limited period. Such expenses are for running the business with a view to produce the benefits to the assessee. Consequently, it cannot be treated as capital asset (Otis Elevator 195 ITR 682 (Bom), Engineers India 239 ITR 237 (Del), Gujarat State Export Corp 209 ITR 649 (Guj) followed; Framatone Connector OEN 294 ITR 559 (Ker) dissented from; Majestic Auto overruled)

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