SC wants fast scrutiny of Vodafone Idea Rs 19-bn tax refund claim

The company is seeking these refunds for the assessment years 2016-17 (Apr-Mar) and 2017-18. The apex court added that the tax department was not under obligation to process refunds within a year like the company had claimed.

The matter emanates from a case filed by Vodafone Idea seeking 47.61 bln rupees as refunds from tax department for the assessment years 2014-15 to 2017-18. The court on Wednesday said that the company was eligible to get 7.33 bln rupees as refund, part of what it had claimed for 2014-15. The company had originally sought 15.32 bln rupees tax refunds for the year. However, the final assessment order of the tax department passed last year said the actual refund for 2014-15 should be 7.33 bln rupees.

The apex court ordered the payment of this sum to the company within four weeks. About refunds for assessment year 2015-16, the tax department's final assessment order said the company actually owed the government 5.82 bln rupees. Vodafone Idea is contesting the claim in the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, with the tribunal granting a stay on the claim.

In its order, the apex court stated that while an entity has a right under the income tax laws to get a refund within a year, the same laws also state that such refunds are subject to scrutiny by the assessing officers. And when such scrutiny is undergoing, the taxpayer does not have the right to get the refunds within a year. At 1327 IST, shares of Vodafone Idea were 1.2% lower at 4.15 rupees on the National Stock Exchange.

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