English language and technical proficiency, coupled with the highly skilled workforce that India has to offer, has made the country a darling of most multinational companies (MNCs). For a while now, these MNCs have been outsourcing their routine as well as technical and complex business processes to their subsidiaries or third-party service providers in low-cost and efficient jurisdictions, including India. Indian entities, in turn, offer their expertise in customer care, follow ups for regular payables like credit card, life and healthcare insurance premiums, routine troubleshooting services, assisting internal departments like finance, accounting, human resources departments, etc., as well as supporting various complicated and complex issues like sophisticated high-end research and technology services, analytical and computational support services, etc. The Government has taken several steps to encourage the service sector and has come up with many benefits and incentives. However, there appears to be a new set of challenges that this sector must deal with, arising in the context of Goods and Service Tax (“GST”).
The concessionaire or contractors/ sub-contractors of the national/ state highways face a possible levy of Goods and Services Tax (“GST”) on their supplies. However, GST is exempted for services when toll is paid to access the roads or bridges. The exemption is also applicable on payment of annuity for access to roads. A contract in relation to highways may deal with several aspects such as construction of a highway, shops, operation of highways, maintenance of highways, collection of toll or separate charges like overhead charges, etc. Further, with different models of highway projects, it becomes essential to analyse the nature of supply, party rendering such supply to determine if any exemption or concessional rate is available.
In a recent decision involving Canon India, the Hon’ble Supreme Court (“SC”) had adjudicated about the authority of the officers of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (“DRI”) to issue a show cause notice (“SCN”) under Section 28 of the Customs Act, 1962 (“Customs Act”) for the recovery of short payment of customs duty. The Hon’ble SC held that a DRI officer does not have the authority to initiate proceedings through SCN issuances, since such an officer was not the person to clear the goods initially.
With re-opening of offices post the second wave of COVID-19, various employers have re-initiated providing canteen, cab, health insurance and many other services to their employees as part of welfare programme as well as obligations under various labour law regulations. The employer may choose to recover the cost of providing such services in full or offer a concession or deduct it from the concerned employees’ salaries or supply them free of cost. Surprisingly, the Goods and Services Tax (“GST”) legislation neither provides for any exemption nor declares that services rendered by the employer to its employees would not be in the nature of goods or services.
With the ongoing pandemic, the odds of invocation of clauses such as liquidated damages, price variation clause, compensation clause or forfeiture of deposits for the delay in adhering to contractual timelines, etc. have become very high. Such additional payments could also bring out an exposure on account of taxability under Goods and Services Tax (“GST”) legislations.
Given the disruptions in domestic and international supply chains due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government announced a slew of indirect tax measures to protect the interests of taxpayers. With the extension of the lockdown, it is important to take a look at the steps, which have been undertaken and the next steps required to reinforce the Government’s commitment towards economic regeneration. Continue Reading Tax relief in times of Covid-19 – A review of the Indirect Tax measures
A recent social media post by an Indian actor depicting an invoice issued by a prominent hotel where he was charged INR 442 for two bananas created widespread furor among the public, industry players and the tax authorities, with certain quarters challenging the legality of levy of Goods and Service Tax (“GST”) itself on the supplies made. The invoice indicated the description of the sale item as a ‘fruit platter’ and the cumulative rate of GST as 18%. The Central Excise & Taxation Department also swung into action, served a show cause notice to the hotel and imposed a penalty of INR 25,000 for levying GST on sale of bananas. According to the department, serving bananas to the customer in a hotel room was an exempt supply of goods, not involving any element of service.
The banana row brings to light the classic conundrum of classification of composite supplies and consequent rate of GST applicable to such supplies. Composite supplies refers to supplies of two or more taxable supplies of goods or services or both, which are naturally bundled and supplied in conjunction with each other in the ordinary course of business, one of which is a principal supply (for example, supply of an air-conditioner coupled with delivery and installation at the customer’s premises would be a composite supply with supply of air-conditioner being the principal supply). The rate of tax in case of a composite supply is the rate applicable to the principal supply. Continue Reading Banana Bytes: A Classification Conundrum under GST
With the decision in Sh. Rishi Gupta v. M/s Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd., the National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) has shifted the focus from the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector to the e-commerce sector.
In this case, the applicant alleged that the excess amount charged at the time of placing the order should be refunded to him, given that the rate of Goods and Services Tax (GST) reduced from 28% to 18%, between the date of placing the order and the date of supply. It was further alleged that the respondent, i.e. Flipkart, was resorting to profiteering in contravention of the provisions of Section 171 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act), by not refunding the differential amount. Continue Reading Anti-Profiteering Orders – A Right Step Forward? Part II
Since its implementation on July 01, 2017, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime continues to evolve on various fronts by way of rationalisation of tax rates, availability of exemptions, procedural amendments, etc. While the Government has been relentless in its efforts to iron out every crease, bottlenecks continue to persist. With the benefit of hindsight, here is a critical look at some of the significant triumphs and misses on completion of its first anniversary.
Parties entering into contractual arrangements usually insist on including a clause for liquidated damages to pre-emptively agree upon the amount of reparation that would be payable by either Party on failure to meet its commitment. Generally, such commitments are in the nature of adhering to timelines, fulfillment of conditions, quality of products, etc.
The levy of an indirect tax on the amount of liquidated damages, has faced a series of challenges under the erstwhile service tax regime. Agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act was deemed to be service under the service tax regime . Where liquidated damages were in the nature of accidental damages caused due to unforeseen actions and not relatable to the provision of service, these were not included in the value of the service, and hence not to be taxed .