In a significant ruling, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) spares an NRI from tax liability due to discrepancies in stamp duty valuation for a Mumbai property purchase. Details of the case and expert insights explained.

Relief Granted by ITAT

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) recently delivered a crucial verdict, providing relief to a non-resident Indian (NRI) embroiled in a tax dispute over stamp duty valuation. The case revolved around the purchase of a flat in Mumbai by Shyamkumar Madhavdas Chugh, a Sharjah-based individual, who faced additional tax liability imposed by the assessing officer (AO).

Background of the Case

Chugh acquired a flat in West Mumbai for Rs 1.82 crore in 2010, with the sale agreement executed on June 21, 2010. The payment for the property spanned over three years, concluding on August 14, 2013, when the flat was registered. The AO contended that Chugh underpaid stamp duty, leading to an inflated income assessment of Rs 40.45 lakh.

Dispute Resolution Process

Chugh challenged the AO’s decision, triggering a legal battle that culminated in the ITAT’s ruling. The dispute centered on the discrepancy between the stamp duty value at the time of purchase in 2010 and the increased valuation at the time of registration in 2013. The AO sought to include the differential amount in Chugh’s income, resulting in additional tax liability.

ITAT’s Verdict

The ITAT, however, disagreed with the AO’s assessment, citing specific circumstances of the case. It determined that the provisions of the Income Tax Act did not apply in this instance, as the agreement to purchase the property was made in 2010, while the actual registration occurred in 2013. Therefore, the stamp duty value at the time of agreement in 2010 was deemed appropriate for assessment.

Expert Opinion: Legal Insights

Rubal Bansal Maini, Partner at Luthra and Luthra Law Offices India, affirmed the ITAT’s ruling, emphasizing the significance of the timing of the agreement and registration. Maini explained that when the sale deed and registration dates span different years, the Income Tax Act mandates specific treatment of stamp duty valuation. In this case, the discrepancy arose when the AO considered the 2013 stamp duty value, leading to unwarranted tax demands.

Implications and Conclusion

The ITAT’s decision sets a precedent in resolving tax disputes related to property transactions spanning multiple years. It underscores the importance of accurately assessing stamp duty valuation based on the timing of agreements and registrations. The ruling provides clarity and relief to taxpayers, particularly NRIs, navigating complex tax regulations in real estate transactions.

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