Thursday, 23 January 2014

ITAT Explains Important Law on Capitals Gains For Development Agreements

Fibars Infratech Pvt. Ltd vs. ITO (ITAT Hyderabad)

S. 2(47)(v): A development agreement by which possession is transferred to developer is not a “transfer” for capital gains purposes if developer’s willingness to perform his part of the contract is not ascertainable with certainty

The assessee entered into a Development Agreement-cum-GPA with MAK Projects on 15.12.2006 (AY 2007-08). The agreement provided the MAK would construct a villa township in 30 months and that the assessee was entitled was entitled to a certain portion (16 villas) of the developed area as consideration for the transfer of the land. Though possession of the property was handed over to the developer, the assessee claimed that the transaction did not give rise to capital gains in AY 2007-08 on the basis that (a) the consideration was neither received nor quantified, (b) the project was at the conception stage and even the building plan approvals were not received & (c) the developer had not incurred any expenditure on the project. The AO & CIT(A) relied on Chaturbhuj Dwarakadas Kapadia 260 ITR 491 (Bom) where it was held that the execution of a development agreement amounted to a transfer u/s 2(47)(v) and gave rise to capital gains. On appeal by the assessee to the Tribunal HELD allowing the appeal:
S. 2(47)(v) provides that the term ‘transfer‘ includes “any transaction involving the allowing of, the possession of any immovable property to be taken or retained in part performance of a contract of the nature referred to in s. 53A of the Transfer of Property Act”. In order to be “of the nature referred to in s. 53A of the Transfer of Property Act”, the necessary precondition is that the transferee should be willing to perform his part of the contract. The “willingness” has to be absolute and unconditional. If willingness is studded with a condition, it is no more than an offer and cannot be termed as willingness. On facts, the “willingness” of the developer to perform his part of the obligations is not ascertainable in AY 2007-08 because (a) the consideration was not paid to the assessee, (b) the building plans had not been approved, (c) there was no progress with regard to development in the AY, (d) there was no investment by the developer in the construction activity during the AY. It is not possible to say whether the developer is prepared to carry out those parts of the agreement to their logical end. The fact that the assessee has given possession is not relevant. Consequently, s. 2(47)(v) does not apply and the capital gains is not assessable to tax (Chaturbhuj Dwarakadas Kapadia 260 ITR 491 (Bom) explained/ distinguished)
Contrast with Charanjit Singh Atwal vs. ITO (ITAT Chd) (order attached) where a contrary view was taken following Chaturbhuj Kapadia 260 ITR 491 (Bom) but without appreciating the fine point regarding certainty of developers’ “willingness” to perform his part of the bargain

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