Section 194A- Amendment in provisions related to TDS on interest

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Section 194A(1) read with section 194A(3)(i) of the Act provide for deduction of tax on interest (other than interest on securities) over a specified threshold, i.e. Rs.10,000 for interest payment by banks, co-operative society engaged in banking business (co-operative bank) and post office and Rs.5,000 for payment of interest by other persons. Further, sub-section (3) of section 194A inter alia also provides for exemption from deduction of tax in respect of following interest payments by co-operative society:

(i) Interest payment by a co-operative society to a member thereof or any other co-operative society. [Section 194A(3)(v) of the Act]

(ii) Interest payments on deposits by a primary agricultural credit society or primary credit society or co-operative land mortgage bank or co-operative land development bank. [Section 194A(3)(viia)(a) of the Act]

(iii) Interest payment on deposits other than time deposit by a co-operative society engaged in the business of banking other than those mentioned in section 194A(3)(viia)(a) of the Act. [Section 194A(3)(viia)(b) of the Act]

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Therefore, as per the provisions of section 194A(1) read with provisions of sections 194A(3)(i)(b) and 194A(3)(viia)(b), co-operative bank is required to deduct tax from interest payment on time deposits if the amount of such payment exceeds specified threshold of Rs.10,000/-. However, as the provisions of section 194A(3)(v) of the Act provide a general exemption from making tax deduction from payment of interest by all co-operative societies to its members, the co-operative banks tried to avail this exemption by making their depositors as members of different categories. This has led to dispute as to whether the co-operative banks, for which the specific provisions of tax deduction exist in the form of section 194A (1), section 194A(3)(i)(b) and section 194A(3)(viia)(b) of the Act, can take the benefit of general exemption provided to all co-operative societies from deduction of tax on payment of interest to members. The matter has been carried to judicial forums and in some cases a view has been taken that the provisions of section 194A(3)(viia)(b) of the Act makes no distinction between members and non-members of co-operative banks for the purposes of deduction of tax, hence, the co-operative banks are required to deduct tax on payment of interest on time deposit and cannot avoid the same by taking the plea of the general exemption provided under section 194A(3)(v) of the Act. This is because the specific provision of tax deduction provided under section 194A(3)(i)(b) and 194A(3)(viia)(b) of the Act for co-operative banks override the general exemption provided to all co-operative societies for non-deduction of tax from interest payment to members under section 194A(3)(v) of the Act.

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As there is no difference in the functioning of the co-operative banks and other commercial banks, the Finance Act, 2006 and Finance Act, 2007 amended the provisions of the Act to provide for co-operative banks a taxation regime which is similar to that for the other commercial banks. Therefore, there is no rationale for treating the co-operative banks differently from other commercial banks in the matter of deduction of tax and allowing them to avail the exemption meant for smaller credit co-operative societies formed for the benefit of small number of members. However, as mentioned earlier, a doubt has been created regarding the applicability of the specific provisions mandating deduction of tax from the payment of interest on time deposits by the co-operative banks to its members by claiming that general exemption provided is also applicable for payment of interest to member depositors. In view of this, it is proposed to amend the provisions of the section 194A of the Act to expressly provide from the prospective date of 1st June, 2015 that the exemption provided from deduction of tax from payment of interest to members by a co-operative society under section 194A(3)(v) ) of the Act shall not apply to the payment of interest on time deposits by the co-operative banks to its members.

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However, the existing exemption provided under section 194A(3)(viia)(a) of the Act to primary agricultural credit society or a primary credit society or a co-operative land mortgage bank or a co-operative land development bank from deduction of tax in respect of interest paid on deposit shall continue to apply. Therefore, these co-operative credit societies/banks referred to in said clause (viia)(a) would not be required to deduct tax on interest payment to depositors even after the proposed amendment.

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Further, the existing exemption provided under section 194A(3)(v) of the Act from deduction of tax from interest paid by a cooperative society to another co-operative society shall continue to apply to the co-operative bank and, therefore, a co-operative bank shall not be required to deduct tax from the payment of interest on time deposit to a depositor, being a co-operative society. The existing provision of TDS on payment of interest by banking company or co-operative bank applies only to the interest payment on time deposits made on or after the 1st day of July, 1995. The definition of “time deposits” provided in the section 194A of the Act excludes recurring deposit from its scope. Therefore, payment of interest on recurring deposits by banking company or co-operative bank is currently not subject to TDS. The recurring deposit is also made for a fixed tenure and, therefore, the same is akin to time deposit. It is, therefore, proposed to amend the definition of ‘time deposits’ so as to include recurring deposits within its scope for the purposes of deduction of tax under section 194A of the Act. However, the existing threshold limit of Rs.10,000 for non-deduction of tax shall also be applicable in case of interest payment on recurring deposits to safeguard interests of small depositors.

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Currently, provisions of proviso to section 194A(3)(i) of the Act provide that the interest income for the purpose of deduction of tax by the banking company or the co-operative bank or the public company shall be computed with reference to a branch of these entities. As currently, most of these entities are computerised and follow core banking solutions for crediting interest, there is no rationale for continuing branch wise calculation of interest by the entities who have adopted core banking solutions. It is, therefore, proposed to amend the provisions of section 194A of the Act to provide that the computation of interest income for the purposes of deduction of tax under section 194A of the Act should be made with reference to the income credited or paid by the banking company or the co-operative bank or the public company which has adopted core banking solutions.

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Under section 194A(3)(ix) of the Act, tax is not required to be deducted from the interest credited or paid on the compensation amount awarded by the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal if the amount of such interest credited or paid during a financial year does not exceed Rs.50,000/-. Finance (No.2) Act, 2009 amended the provisions of section 56 of the Act as well as substituted section 145A of the Act to, inter alia, provide that interest income received on compensation or enhanced compensation shall be deemed to be the income of the year in which the same has been received. However, the existing provisions of section 194A of the Act provides for deduction of tax from interest paid or credited on compensation, whichever is earlier. Section 145A (b) of the Act provides an exception to method of accounting contained in section 145 of the Act and mandates for taxation of interest on compensation on receipt basis only. Therefore, deduction of tax on such interest on mercantile/accrual basis results into undue hardship and mismatch. It is, therefore, proposed to amend the provisions of section 194A of the Income-tax Act, 1961 to provide that deduction of tax under section 194A of the Act from interest payment on the compensation amount awarded by the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal compensation shall be made only at the time of payment, if the amount of such payment or aggregate amount of such payments during a financial year exceeds Rs.50,000/-.

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These amendments will take effect from 1st June, 2015.

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