Amendments in IT Provision on Exemption Schemes for Charitable Trust/ Institutions

Proposed amendments for rationalisation of IT Provision on Exemption Schemes for Charitable Trust/ Institutions, vide different clauses of the Finance Bill 2022 (budget 2022-23):

1. Income of any fund or institution or trust or any university or other educational institution or any hospital or other medical institution referred to in sub-clause (iv) or sub-clause (v) or sub-clause (vi) or sub-clause (via) of clause (23C) of section 10 or any trust or institution registered u/s 12AA or 12AB of the Act is exempt subject to the fulfilment of the conditions provided under various sections. The exemption to these trusts or institutions is available under the two regimes,-

(i) Regime for any fund or institution or trust or any university or other educational institution or any hospital or other medical institution referred to in sub-clause (iv) or sub-clause (v) or sub-clause (vi) or sub-clause (via) of clause (23C) of section 10 (hereinafter referred to as trust or institution under first regime); and

(ii) Regime for the trusts registered under section 12AA/12AB (hereinafter referred to as trust or institution under the second regime).

In the Finance Bill, it is proposed to rationalise the provisions of both the exemption regimes by-

(I) ensuring their effective monitoring and implementation;

(II) bringing consistency in the provisions of the two exemption regimes; and

(III) providing clarity on taxation in certain circumstances.

2. Some consequential amendments are also proposed following the amendments of past few years. All the proposals are discussed below:-

3. Ensuring effective monitoring and Implementation of two exemption regimes:

3.1. Books of account to be maintained by the trusts or institutions under both the regimes,- [Amendments proposed vide Clauses 4 and 6 of the Finance Bill 2022 (budget 2022-23)]

a) Where the total income of any trust or institution under the second regime, as computed under this Act without giving effect to the provisions of section 11 and section 12 of the Act, exceeds the maximum amount which is not chargeable to income-tax in any previous year, it is required to get its accounts audited. Similar provision exists for the trusts or institutions under the first regime in the tenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 of the Act.

b) However, there is no specific provision under the Act providing for the books of accounts to be maintained by such trusts or institutions. In order to ensure proper implementation of both the exemption regimes, it is proposed to amend clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 12A of the Act and tenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 of the Act to provide that where the total income of the trust or institution under both regimes, without giving effect to the provisions of clause (23C) of section 10 or section 11 and 12, exceeds the maximum amount which is not chargeable to tax, such trust or institution shall keep and maintain books of account and other documents in such form and manner and at such place, as may be prescribed.

c) These amendments will take effect from 1st April, 2023 and will accordingly apply to the assessment year 2023-24 and subsequent assessment years.

3.2 Penalty for passing on unreasonable benefits to trustee or specified persons [Amendments proposed vide Clauses 76 of the Finance Bill 2022 (budget 2022-23)]

a) Under section 13 of the Act, trusts or institution under the second regime are required not to pass on any unreasonable benefit to the trustee or any other specified person. In order to discourage such misuse of the funds of the trust or institution by specified persons, it is proposed to insert a new section 271AAE in the Act to provide for penalty on trusts or institution under both the regimes which is equal to amount of income applied by such trust or institution for the benefit of specified person where the violation is noticed for the first time during any previous year and twice the amount of such income where the violation is notice again in any subsequent year. The proposed section seeks to operate without prejudice to any other provision of chapter XXI. Thus, if any penalty is leviable under any of the other provisions of this chapter, in addition to the proposed penalty, that penalty would also be applicable.

b) The proposed new section seeks to provide that, if during any proceeding under the Act, it is found that a person, being any trust or institution under the first or the second regime, has violated the provisions of twenty-first proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 (proposed to be inserted by the Finance Bill and discussed in subsequent paragraphs) or clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 13, as the case may be, the Assessing Officer may direct that such person shall pay by way of penalty,

i) a sum equal to the aggregate amount of income applied, directly or indirectly, by such person, for the benefit of any person referred to in sub-section (3) of section 13 where the violation is noticed for the first time during any previous year; and

ii) a sum equal to two hundred percent of the aggregate amount of income of such person applied, directly or indirectly, by such person, for the benefit of any person referred to in sub-section (3) of section 13, where violation is noticed again in any subsequent previous year.

c) These amendments will take effect from 1st April, 2023 and will accordingly apply in relation to the assessment year 2023-24 and subsequent assessment years.

3.3 Reference to the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner (PCIT/CIT) for the cancellation of registration/approval: [Amendments proposed vide Clauses 4, 7, 40 and 48 of the Finance Bill 2022 (budget 2022-23)]

a) The following issues related to the process of approval or registration, or cancellation or withdrawal thereof, have been noticed, namely:-

i) Registration or approval of non-genuine trusts or institution under automated approval system:

First and second provisos to clause (23C) of section 10 of the Act were substituted by new provisos by the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act, 2020 w.e.f. 01.04.2021. These provisos provided that the application for the approval of any trust or institution under the first regime, shall be made to the jurisdictional Principal Commissioner or Commissioner and such Principal Commissioner or Commissioner shall grant approval after examination of the application. Earlier such applications were required to be filed before the prescribed authority. Similarly, provisions of clause (ac) of sub-section (1) of section 12A provide that application for the trusts or institution under the second regime shall be made to the principal Commissioner or Commissioner. The provisional registrations or provisional approval or re-registrations or approvals in certain cases, under these clauses, are granted in an automated manner and the respective rules have been amended accordingly. It is essential to ensure that non-genuine trusts or institutions do not get exemption provided by these provisions.

ii) Differences in the provisions related to reference for the cancellation of trusts under the both the regimes:

Provisions of sub-section (3) of section 143 provide that no order under this subsection shall be made, denying the benefits of clause (23C) of section 10, unless the Assessing Officer has intimated the Central Government or prescribed authority the contravention of the provisions of sub-clause (iv) or sub-clause (v) or sub-clause (vi) or sub-clause (via) of clause (23C) of section 10 and approval granted to such trust or institution has been rescinded. There is no such provision in cases of trusts or institutions under second regime.

iii) No time limit prescribed for the PCIT/CIT to decide on references for the withdrawal of approval:

For the trusts or institutions under the first regime, the provisions for making reference by the Assessing Officer to the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner are contained in the first proviso to sub-section (3) of section 143 and the time limitation for the completion of assessment is extended as per the provisions of clause (iii) of Explanation 1 to section 153. Presently, there is no time limit for such Principal Commissioner or Commissioner to decide on such reference.

b) In order to address the above issues, it is proposed to amend the provisions of section 12AB and fifteenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 of the Act as follows:

(I) Sub-section (4) of section 12AB of the Act is proposed to be substituted with a new sub-section (4) to provide that where registration or provisional registration of a trust or an institution has been granted under clause (a) or clause (b) or clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 12AB or clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 12AA, as the case may be, and subsequently,-

(a) the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner has noticed occurrence of one or more specified violations during any previous year;

(b) the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner has received a reference from the Assessing Officer under the second proviso to sub-section (3) of section 143 for any previous year, or

(c) such case has been selected in accordance with the risk management strategy, formulated by the Board from time to time, for any previous year, the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner shall,-

(i) call for such documents or information from the trust or institution or make such inquiry as he thinks necessary in order to satisfy himself about the occurrence or otherwise of any specified violation;

(ii) pass an order in writing cancelling the registration of such trust or institution, after affording a reasonable opportunity of being heard, for such previous year and all subsequent previous years, if he is satisfied that one or more specified violation have taken place;

(iii) pass an order in writing refusing to cancel the registration of such trust or institution, if he is not satisfied about the occurrence of one or more specified violation;

(iv) forward a copy of the order under clause (ii) or (iii), as the case may be, to the Assessing Officer and such trust or institution.

(II) The term “specified violation” is proposed to be defined by inserting an Explanation to sub-section (4) of section 12AB of the Act to mean the following violation:-

(a) where any income of the trust or institution under the second regime has been applied other than for the objects for which it is established; or

(b) the trust of institution under the second regime has income from profits and gains of business which is not incidental to the attainment of its objectives or separate books of account are not maintained by it in respect of the business which is incidental to the attainment of its objectives; or

(c) the trust or the institution under the second regime has applied any part of its income from the property held under a trust for private religious purposes which does not ensure for the benefit of the public; or

(d) the trust or institution under the second regime established for charitable purpose created or established after the commencement of this Act, has applied any part of its income for the benefit of any particular religious community or caste;

(e) any activity being carried out by the trust or the institution under the second regime,

(i) is not genuine; or

(ii) is not being carried out in accordance with all or any of the conditions subject to which it was registered; or

(f) the trust or the institution under the second regime has not complied with the requirement of any other law, as referred to in item (B) of sub-clause (i) of clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 12AB, and the order, direction or decree, by whatever name called, holding that such non-compliance has occurred, has either not been disputed or has attained finality.

III) Sub-section (5) of section 12AB of the Act is proposed to be substituted with a new sub-section (5) to provide that that the order under clause (ii) or (iii) of subsection (4) shall be passed before expiry of the period of six months, calculated from the end of the quarter in which the first notice is issued by the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner, on or after the 1st day of April, 2022, calling for any document or information, or for making any inquiry, under clause (i) of subsection (4);

IV) Similarly, the fifteenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 of the Act is proposed to be substituted to provide that where the fund or institution referred to in sub-clause (iv) or trust or institution referred to in sub-clause (v) or any university or other educational institution referred to in sub-clause (vi) or any hospital or other medical institution referred to in sub-clause (via) of clause (23C) of the said section 10 is approved under said clause and subsequently,-

(a) the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner has noticed occurrence of one or more specified violations during any previous year;

(b) the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner has received a reference from the Assessing Officer under the second proviso to sub-section (3) of section 143 for any previous year; or

(c) such case has been selected in accordance with the risk management strategy, formulated by the Board from time to time, for any previous year, the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner shall,-

(i) call for such documents or information from the fund or trust or institution or any university or other educational institution or any hospital or other medical institution or make such inquiry as he thinks necessary in order to satisfy himself about the occurrence of any specified violation;

(ii) pass an order in writing cancelling the approval of such fund or trust or institution or any university or other educational institution or any hospital or other medical institution, on or before the specified date, after affording a reasonable opportunity of being heard, for such previous year and all subsequent previous years if he is satisfied that one or more specified violation has taken place;

(iii) pass an order in writing refusing to cancel the approval of such fund or trust or institution or any university or other educational institution or any hospital or other medical institution, on or before the specified date, if he is not satisfied about the occurrence of one or more specified violations;

(iv) forward a copy of the order under clause (ii) or (iii), as the case may be, to the Assessing Officer and such fund or trust or institution or any university or other educational institution or any hospital or other medical institution;

V) It is also proposed to insert an Explanation 1 to the fifteenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 of the Act to provide that for the purposes of this proviso, “specified date” shall mean the day on which the period of six months, calculated from the end of the quarter in which the first notice is issued by the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner, on or after the 1st day of April, 2022, calling for any document or information, or for making any inquiry, under clause (i) expires.

VI) The term “specified violation” is also proposed to be defined by inserting an Explanation (Explanation 2) to the fifteenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 of the Act to mean the following:-

(a) where any income of trust or institution under the first regime has been applied other than for the objects for which it is established; or

(b) the trust or institution under the first regime has income from profits and gains of business is not incidental to the attainment of its objectives or separate books of account are not maintained by it in respect of the business which is incidental to the attainment of its objectives; or

(c) any activity being carried out by the trust or institution under the first regime-

(A) is not genuine; or

(B) is not being carried out in accordance with all or any of the conditions subject to which it was notified or approved; or

(d) the trust or institution under the first regime has not complied with the requirement of any other law for the time being in force, and the order, direction or decree, by whatever name called, holding that such noncompliance has occurred, has either not been disputed or has attained finality.

Consequentially sub-section (3) of section 143 of the Act is proposed to be amended by deleting the reference to trusts or institution under the first regime in the first proviso and delete the existing third proviso.

It is also proposed to provide by inserting an Explanation (Explanation 3) to the fifteenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 of the Act that where a reference, under the first proviso to sub-section (3) of section 143, has been made on or before the 31st March, 2022 by the Assessing Officer for the contravention of certain provisions of clause (23C) of section 10 of the Act, such references shall be dealt with in the manner provided under the said Explanation.

VII) It is proposed to insert another proviso in sub-section (3) of section 143 of the Act providing that where the Assessing Officer is satisfied that any trust or institution under first or second regime has committed any specified violation, as defined in the Explanation 2 to fifteenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 or Explanation to sub-section (4) of section 12AB, as the case may be, he shall,

(a) send a reference to the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner to withdraw the approval or registration, as the case may be; and

(b) no order making an assessment of the total income or loss of such fund or institution or trust or any university or other educational institution or any hospital or other medical institution shall be made by him without giving effect to the order passed by the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner under clause (ii) or (iii) of the fifteenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 or clause (ii) or (iii) of sub-section (4) of section 12AB.

Consequentially, it is also proposed to amend the provisions of clause (iii) of Explanation to section 153 by deleting the reference to trusts or institution under the first regime and to insert a new clause (xiii) to provide that the period commencing from the date on which the Assessing Officer makes a reference to the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner under the second proviso to sub-section (3) of section 143 or is deemed to have been made under Explanation 3 to the fifteenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10, and ending with the date on which the copy of the order under clause (ii) or (iii) of fifteenth proviso to clause (23C) of section 10 or clause (ii) or (iii) of sub-section (4) of section 12AB, as the case may be, is received by the Assessing Officer shall be excluded in computing the period of limitation.

These amendments will take effect from 1st April, 2022.

4. Bringing consistency in the provisions of two exemption regimes

As mentioned earlier, there is a requirement for alignment of certain provisions of the two regimes as they both intend to grant similar benefit. (..contd.. please refer Finance Bill 2022 for more details) 71926

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