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Principles of Mutuality

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ITO vs. Venkatesh Premises Co-op Society Ltd (Supreme Court)

Principles of Mutuality: Receipts by housing co­-operative societies such as non­-occupancy charges, transfer charges, common amenity fund charges and certain other charges from their members are exempt from income-tax based on the doctrine of mutuality. The fact that the receipts are in excess of the limits prescribed by the State Government does not mean that the Societies have rendered services for profit attracting an element of commerciality and thus was taxable 

Transfer charges are payable by the outgoing member. If for convenience, part of it is paid by the transferee, it would not partake the nature of profit or commerciality as the amount is appropriated only after the transferee is inducted as a member. In the event of non­ admission, the amount is returned. The moment the transferee is inducted as a member the principles of mutuality apply.

Likewise, non­ occupancy charges are levied by the society and is payable by a member who does not himself occupy the premises but lets it out to a third person. The charges are again utilised only for the common benefit of facilities and amenities to the members.

Contribution to the common amenity fund taken from a member disposing property is similarly utilised for meeting sudden and regular heavy repairs to ensure continuous and proper hazard free maintenance of the properties of the society which ultimately enures to the enjoyment, benefit and safety of the members. These charges are levied on the basis of resolutions passed by the society and in consonance with its bye­laws. The receipts in the present cases have indisputably been used for mutual benefittowards maintenance of the premises, repairs, infrastructure and provision of common amenities


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