Journal entries should enjoy equal immunity on par with account payee cheques or bank drafts for the provisions of section 269SS
Date of Order: 27-6-2014
Recently ITAT Mumbai in Lodha Builders Pvt Ltd vs. ACIT in (2014) TaxCorp(LJ) 3436 (ITAT) held that Journal entries should enjoy equal immunity on par with account payee cheques or bank drafts for the provisions of section 269SS.
The ITAT held as under:
It is clear that the journal entries are hit by the relevant provisions of section 269SS of the Act. However, it is the finding of the Hon‟ble High court that completing the "empty formalities" of payments and repayments by issuing/receiving cheque to swap/squire up the transactions, is not the intention of the provisions of section 269SS of the Act, when the transactions are otherwise bonafide or genuine. Such reasons of the assessee constitute „reasonable cause‟ within the meaning of section 273B of the Act. In the light of the above ratio of judgment, we analyse the facts of the present case here as under.
There is no finding of AO in the order of the AO during the assessment proceedings that the impugned transactions constitutes unaccounted money and are not bona fide or not genuine. As such, there is no information or material before the AO to suggest or demonstrate the same. In the language of the Honble High court, „neither the genuineness of the receipt of loan/deposit nor the transaction of repayment of loan by way of adjustment through book entries carried out in the ordinary course of business has been doubted in the regular assessment. Admittedly, the transactions by way of journal entries are aimed at the extinguishment of the mutual liabilities between the assessees and the sister concerns of the group and such reasons constitute a reasonable cause.
In the present case, the causes shown by the assessee for receiving or repayment of the loan/deposit otherwise than by account-payee cheque/bank draft, was on account of the following, namely: alternate mode of raising funds; assignment of receivables; squaring up transactions; operational efficiencies/MIS purpose; consolidation of family member debts; correction of errors; and loans taken in case. In our opinion, all these reasons are, prima facie, commercial in nature and they cannot be described as non-business by any means. Further, we asked ourselves as to why should the assessee under consideration take up issuing number of account payee cheques / bank drafts which can be accounted by the journal entries.
This being the spirit of Hon‟ble High Court of Bombay, the ITAT adopts the same to the present issue. As such, the same is binding on us. What is the point in issuing hundreds of account payee cheques / account payee bank drafts between the sister concerns of the group, when transactions can be accounted in books using journal entries, which is also an accepted mode of accounting?
In our opinion, on the factual matrix of these cases under consideration, journal entries should enjoy equal immunity on par with account payee cheques or bank drafts. Of course, the above conclusion apply so long as the transactions are for business purposes and do not involve unaccounted money and they are genuine. In fact, such journal entries shall save large number of cheque books for the banks.
Further, There is no dispute that the impugned journal entries in the respective books were done with the view to raise funds from the sister concerns, to assign the receivable among the sister concerns, to adjust or transfer the balances, to consolidate the debts, to correct the clerical errors etc. In the language of the Hon‟ble High court, the said „journal entries‟ constitutes one of the recognized modes of recording the loan/deposit. The commercial nature and occurrence of these transactions by way of journal entries is in the normal course of business operation of the group concerns. In this regard, there is no adverse finding by the AO in the regular assessment. AO has not made out in the assessment that any of the impugned transactions is aimed at non commercial reasons and outside the normal business operations. As such, the provisions of section 269SS and 269T dof the Act shall not be attracted where there is no involvement of the „money‟ as held by the Hon‟ble High Court of Delhi in the above cited cases, supra. Therefore, in the facts of the present case, in our opinion, though the assessee has violated the provisions of Section 269SS / 269T of the Act in respect of journal entries, the assessee has shown reasonable cause and, therefore, the penalty imposed under Section 271D/E of the Act are not sustainable. Regarding an amount of „money‟ said to have been paid in violation of the said provisions, the same needs to be deleted,