Housing society is promoter for redevelopment of its buildings

Kamlesh Bhuvan CHS in Chembur had entered into a redevelopment agreement with Mahavir Enterprises for redeveloping its dilapidated building. There was also a tripartite agreement between the society, each member and the builder for allotment of flats in the re-developed building. It was agreed that each member would get additional space of 20% in the new building. The society also took a bank guarantee of Rs 50 lakh from the builder.

However, the builder defaulted in handing over possession of the flats on time and also failed to pay compensation for alternate accommodation for the period of delay. A member of the society Padam Chandiramani, filed a complaint before the Additional Mumbai Suburban District Forum against the builder—Mahavir Enterprises—through its partners D Gala and K Shah as well as against the housing society.

The builder contested the complaint. He stated that the keys to the flats of all the original 12 members, including Chandiramani, had been handed over to the society but the society had failed to hand over possession to its members. He argued the society had an obligation to ensure that all its members would get possession of the flats within 24 months, but had failed to do so. The society did not care to contest the case.

The forum held that the builder as well as the society were jointly and severally liable to put Chandiramani in possession of her flat, and ordered delivery of the flat within two months. Additionally, the builder was also ordered to pay compensation at the agreed rate of Rs 25 per sq ft per month along with 10% interest. Further, litigation costs of Rs 5,000 were awarded.

The builder and the society challenged this order in appeal. The state commission observed a co-operative housing society would come within the ambit of the definition of a promoter, developer and builder as it has promised it give possession of flats to its members in the redeveloped building.

Accordingly by its order delivered on April 12 by Justice A P Bhangalae for the bench along with Usha Thakare the Maharashtra State Commission modified the order passed to apportion the liability between the builder and the society If held that the builder would be liable to pay Rs 25 per sq ft to Chandirarmani for the period of delay till the date of handing over keys to the society, and thereafter, the society would be liable to pay the same amount of compensation for its failure to put Chandiramani in possession.

Jehangir Gai

(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt. of India’s National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His e-mail is jehangir.gai.columnist@outlook.in)

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Can’t tax redevelopment payment to flat owner

ITAT: Can’t tax redevelopment payment to flat owner
Compensation received by a flat owner of a cooperative housing society , from a redeveloper cannot be taxed in his hands, according to a recent order of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal’s (ITAT) Mumbai bench.

The ITAT noted this compensation was towards the hardship which the flat owner would face owing to the redevelopment. It held such compensation to be in the nature of a “capital receipt“, which “is outside the scope of income that can be chargeable to tax“. In other words, such compensation cannot be subject to income-tax.

This landmark order, whi ch relates to the I-T implications for a flat owner, will help taxpayers facing similar litigation. Management committees of co-operative societies, especially in Mumbai, will also find it easier to persuade their members (flat owners) to agree to undertake redevelopment, as I-T-related anxieties will ease. However, the ITAT held that another sum of money rece ived by the flat owner for payment of rentals while the redevelopment work was ongoing would not be taxed only to the extent it was actually utilised for rent payments. Any surplus would be treated as `income from other sources’.It would be added to the taxable income of the flat owner and the applicable I-T slab rate would apply (for income above Rs 10 lakh, the current rate is 30% plus surcharge and cess).

Jitendra Kumar Soneja had received a sum of Rs 22 lakh as compensation from the redeveloper and also another sum of Rs 8.55 lakh for paying rent as he had to vacate his flat while the redevelopment work was ongoing. Both these amounts were credited to his bank account.

As he was unable to satisfactorily explain the reason for not disclosing this sum of Rs 30.55 lakh in his I-T returns for the concerned financial year 2006-07, the I-T officer treated it as `undisclosed income’ liable to I-T. Having lost the case at the Commissioner of I-T (Ap peals) level, Soneja appealed to the ITAT.

Soneja’s counsel submitted to the ITAT that Rs 22 lakh was received as compensation owing to the hardship caused to the taxpayer on account of redevelopment. It was received as a corpus fund, which was a capital receipt and was not taxable. The ITAT took note of this contention and the fact that the compensation relates to a flat, which is a capital asset.

The ITAT did not agree with the views of the I-T department that such compensation was the flatowner’s share in the profits earned by the redeveloper. “One has to see what is the nature of income in the hands of the receiver and not the payer (redeveloper),“ ITAT held.

Going a step further, ITAT stated that while the compensation was a capital receipt and not taxable, it would be reduced from the cost of acquisition of the flat. This would have a tax impact, in case the flat (or rather the redeveloped flat) was subsequently sold.

Capital gains, on which capital gains tax is levied, is the difference between the sale price and the cost of acquisition (or purchase price).If the cost of acquisition is lower, it would result in a higher capital gains base and thus a higher incidence of capital gains tax.

As Soneji had incurred a rent expenditure of only Rs 6.80 lakh as against Rs 8.55 lakh received for this purpose, the balance of Rs 1.75 lakh was held liable to I-T.

Lubna Kably Mumbai: