The meaning of amount paid or payable under section 44AB of the Income Tax Act is not defined in the act itself. But we can take guidance from decisions by various high courts. Here are excerpts of courts orders in which the Hon’ble Income Tax Appellate Tribunal tried to explain the meaning of amount paid or payable.
Meaning of amount paid or payable defined by court
The phrase ‘amount paid or payable’ used in section 44AB of the Income Tax Act came up before hon’ble ITAT- Delhi in Dy. CIT vs. O.N.G.C.  74 Itd 180/66 TTJ 897 (Delhi – Trib.) and it explained.
Meaning : The expression ‘amount paid or payable’ will comprise the tax liability of the assessee, which is agreed to be paid by the Indian concern pursuant to the agreement. As such, only single point grossing could be done.
Section 44AB of Income Tax Act
Audit of accounts of certain persons carrying on business or profession.
44AB. Every person,—
(a) carrying on business shall, if his total sales, turnover or gross receipts, as the case may be, in business exceed or exceeds one crore rupees in any previous year [***]:
Provided that in the case of a person whose—
(a) aggregate of all amounts received including amount received for sales, turnover or gross receipts during the previous year, in cash, does not exceed five per cent of the said amount; and
(b) aggregate of all payments made including amount incurred for expenditure, in cash, during the previous year does not exceed five per cent of the said payment,
this clause shall have effect as if for the words “one crore rupees”, the words ” ten crore rupees” had been substituted:
Provided further that for the purposes of this clause, the payment or receipt, as the case may be, by a cheque drawn on a bank or by a bank draft, which is not account payee, shall be deemed to be the payment or receipt, as the case may be, in cash; or
(b) carrying on profession shall, if his gross receipts in profession exceed fifty lakh rupees in any previous year; or
(c) carrying on the business shall, if the profits and gains from the business are deemed to be the profits and gains of such person under section 44AE or section 44BB or section 44BBB, as the case may be, and he has claimed his income to be lower than the profits or gains so deemed to be the profits and gains of his business, as the case may be, in any previous year; or
(d) carrying on the profession shall, if the profits and gains from the profession are deemed to be the profits and gains of such person under section 44ADA and he has claimed such income to be lower than the profits and gains so deemed to be the profits and gains of his profession and his income exceeds the maximum amount which is not chargeable to income-tax in any previous year; or
(e) carrying on the business shall, if the provisions of sub-section (4) of section 44AD are applicable in his case and his income exceeds the maximum amount which is not chargeable to income-tax in any previous year,
get his accounts of such previous year audited by an accountant before the specified date and furnish by that date the report of such audit in the prescribed form duly signed and verified by such accountant and setting forth such particulars as may be prescribed :
Provided that this section shall not apply to the person, who declares profits and gains for the previous year in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 44AD and his total sales, turnover or gross receipts, as the case may be, in business does not exceed two crore rupees in such previous year:
Provided further that this section shall not apply to the person, who derives income of the nature referred to in section 44B or section 44BBA, on and from the 1st day of April, 1985 or, as the case may be, the date on which the relevant section came into force, whichever is later :
Provided also that in a case where such person is required by or under any other law to get his accounts audited , it shall be sufficient compliance with the provisions of this section if such person gets the accounts of such business or profession audited under such law before the specified date and furnishes by that date the report of the audit as required under such other law and a further report by an accountant in the form prescribed under this section.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this section,—
(i) “accountant” shall have the same meaning as in the Explanation below sub-section (2) of section 288;
(ii) “specified date”, in relation to the accounts of the assessee of the previous year relevant to an assessment year, means date one month prior to the due date for furnishing the return of income under sub-section (1) of section 139.
In this article, you can get guidance from high courts on the meaning of amount paid or payable under section 44AB of the Income Tax Act.
Updated up to Finance Act 2021