Bad Debts and Provision for Bad and Doubtful Debts
Section 36(1)(vii) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 deals with the allowability of bad debts and section 36(1)(viia) deals with the allowability of provision for bad and doubtful debts. According to section 36(1)(vii), bad debts written off are admissible deduction subject to the conditions prescribed under section 36(2), i.e.,–
(i) no such deduction shall be allowed unless such debt or part thereof has been taken into account in computing the income of the assessee of theprevious year in which the amount of such debt or part thereof is written off or of an earlier previous year, or represents money lent in the ordinary course of the business of banking or money-lending which is carried on by the assessee;
(ii) if the amount ultimately recovered on any such debt or part of debt is less than the difference between the debt or part and the amount so deducted, the deficiency shall be deductible in the previous year in which the ultimate recovery is made;
(iii) any such debt or part of debt may be deducted if it has already been written off as irrecoverable in the accounts of an earlier previous year, but the Assessing Officer had not allowed it to be deducted on the ground that it had not been established to have become a bad debt in that year;
(iv) where any such debt or part of debt is written off as irrecoverable in the accounts of the previous year and the Assessing Officer is satisfied that such debt or part became a bad debt in any earlier previous year nor falling beyond a period of four previous years immediately preceding the previous year in which such debt or part is written off, the provisions of sub-section (6) of section 155 shall apply;
(v) where such debt or part of debt relates to advances made by an assessee to which clause (viia) of sub-section (1) applies, no such deduction shall be allowed unless the assessee has debited the amount of such debt or part of debt in that previous year to the provision for bad and doubtful debts account made under that clause.
The said deduction is limited to the amount by which the bad debts exceed the credit balance in the provision for bad and doubtful debts account made under section 36(1)(viia). According to section 36(1)(viia), a specified percentage of the total income and a specified percentage of the aggregate average advances made by the rural branches of the bank, both computed in the prescribed manner, is allowable as a deduction in respect of provision for bad and doubtful debts made by banks other than foreign banks.
A scheduled bank/non-scheduled bank has the option to claim a further deduction for an amount not exceeding the income derived from redemption of securities in accordance with a scheme framed by the Central Government. This is in addition to the deduction specified in paragraphs above with respect to section 36(i)(viia). However, for the purpose of claiming this deduction, it is necessary that such income should be disclosed in the return of income under the head ‘Profit and gains of business or profession”.
Section 36(1)(vii) requires the amount of any bad debt or part thereof to be written off as irrecoverable in the accounts of the assessee for the previous year. It is sufficient compliance of the section if the write off is done at Head Office level.