Section 201- Assessee in Default- Amendment – S. 201 Deemed date of payment of tax by resident payee is date of furnishing of return of income.
Under the existing provisions of Chapter XVII-B of the Income-tax Act, a person is required to deduct tax on certain specified payments at the specified rates if the payment exceeds specified threshold. In case of non-deduction of tax in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter, he is deemed to be an assessee in default under section 201(1) in respect of the amount of such non-deduction.
However, section 191 of the Act provides that a person shall be deemed to be assessee in default in respect of non/short deduction of tax only in cases where the payee has also failed to pay the tax directly. Therefore, the deductor cannot be treated as assessee in default in respect of non/short deduction of tax if the payee has discharged his tax liability.
The payer is liable to pay interest under section 201(1A) on the amount of non/short deduction of tax from the date on which such tax was deductible to the date on which the payee has discharged his tax liability directly. As there is no one-to-one correlation between the tax to be deducted by the payer and the tax paid by the payee, there is lack of clarity as to when it can be said that payer has paid the taxes directly. Also, there is no clarity on the issue of the cut-off date, i.e. the date on which it can be said that the payee has discharged his tax liability.
In order to provide clarity regarding discharge of tax liability by the resident payee on payment of any sum received by him without deduction of tax, it proposed to amend section 201 to provide that the payer who fails to deduct the whole or any part of the tax on the payment made to a resident payee shall not be deemed to be an assessee in default in respect of such tax if such resident payee –
(i) has furnished his return of income under section 139;
(ii) has taken into account such sum for computing income in such return of income; and
(iii) has paid the tax due on the income declared by him in such return of income,
and the payer furnishes a certificate to this effect from an accountant in such form as may be prescribed.
The date of payment of taxes by the resident payee shall be deemed to be the date on which return has been furnished by the payer.
It is also proposed to provide that where the payer fails to deduct the whole or any part of the tax on the payment made to a resident and is not deemed to be an assessee in default under section 201(1) on account of payment of taxes by the such resident, the interest under section 201(1A)(i) shall be payable from the date on which such tax was deductible to the date of furnishing of return of income by such resident payee.
Amendments on similar lines are also proposed to be made in the provisions of section 206C relating to TCS for clarifying the deemed date of discharge of tax liability by the buyer or licensee or lessee.
Impact – The amendment seeks to absolve the ‘assessee in default’ in case the tax has been duly paid to the Government Exchequer, though by the payee and not by the payer. Accordingly, in case the taxes have been paid and the income has been duly reported in the return of income by the resident payee, the person making the default would not be regarded as ‘assessee in default’. Thus, no interest and penalty would be leviable.
These amendments took effect from 1st July, 2012.