This term has several quite distinct meanings. (1) It refers to the cost of maintaining something. Considerable expense may be incurred within a business through the continual maintenance of items of plant and machinery. Costs of maintaining equipment are normally treated as expenses incurred in earning the profit for any given period. They are allowable as deductions for tax purposes. (2) The term has an equivalent meaning when applied to persons rather than objects. A man divorced from his wife may be ordered by the court to pay both her and their children, if any, fixed sums each week or month for their maintenance, i.e. living expenses. Amounts payable on a court order are taxable in the hands of the recipient and are tax deductible for the person making the payment. (3) Maintenance has a specific meaning in the law of contract. It is applied to payments made to the plaintiff (or agreements to make such payments) by third parties, where the particular third party has no legal or moral interest in the action or insufficient interest to satisfy the court that his offer of financial backing is justified. Where payments of this type are not seen as representing a justified interest they are illegal, and any contract connected with their payment would be treated as illegal.
Reference: The Penguin Business Dictionary , 3rd edt.
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