Under the present system there are 88 exemption notifications. The need for exemptions is not obviated with the introduction of negative list. While some existing exemptions have been built into the negative list, others, wherever necessary, have been retained as exemptions. In addition some new exemptions are also proposed to be introduced. For ease of reference and simplicity most of the exemptions are now a part of one single mega exemption notification 25/2012-ST dated 20/6/12 (list of such exemptions is placed as Exhibit A3). The exemptions requiring some clarification are explained below:
7.1 Are services provided to all international organizations exempt from service tax? No. Services to only specified international organisations are exempt. ‘Specified international organisation’ has been defined in the notification and means an international organization declared by the Central Government in pursuance of section 3 of the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947 to which the provisions of the Schedule to the said Act apply. Illustrative list of specified international organisations are as follows: 1. International Civil Aviation Organisation 2. World Health Organisation 3. International Labor Organisation 4. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations 5. UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) 6. International Monetary Fund (IMF) 7. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development 8. Universal Postal Union 9. International Telecommunication Union 10. World Meteorological Organisation 11. Permanent Central Opium Board 12. International Hydrographic Bureau 13. Commissioner for Indus Waters, Government of Pakistan and his advisers and assistants 14. Asian African Legal Consultative Committee 15. Commonwealth Asia Pacific Youth Development Centre, Chandigarh 16. Delegation of Commission of European Community 17. Customs Co-operation Council 18. Asia Pacific Telecommunity 19. International Centre of Public Enterprises in Developing Countries, Ljubljana (Yugoslavia) 96 20. International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology 21. Asian Development Bank 22. South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation 23. International Jute Organisation, Dhaka, Bangladesh Note: As the list is subjected to addition (or even deletion), the officers are advised to verify the eligibility of the concerned organizations as and when required. 7.2 Health Care Services (Details at Sr. No 2 of Exhibit A3) 7.2.1 Are all health care services exempt? No. only services in recognized systems of medicines in India are exempt. In terms of the Clause (h) of section 2 of the Clinical Establishments Act, 2010, the following systems of medicines are recognized systems of medicines: • Allopathy • Yoga • Naturopathy • Ayurveda • Homeopathy • Siddha • Unani • Any other system of medicine that may be recognized by central government 7.2.2 Who all are covered as paramedic? Paramedics are trained health care professionals, for example nursing staff, physiotherapists, technicians, lab assistants etc. Services by them in a clinical establishment would be in the capacity of employee and not provided in independent capacity and will thus be considered as services by such clinical establishment. Similar services in independent capacity are also exempted. 7.3 Services provided to or by a governmental authority 7.3.1 Are various corporations formed under Central Acts or State Acts or various government companies registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or autonomous institutions set up by special acts covered under the definition of ‘governmental authority’? No. In terms of its definition in mega notification 25/2012-ST, following conditions should be satisfied for a board, body or an authority to be eligible for exemptions as a governmental authority: • set up by an act of the Parliament or a State Legislature; 97 • established with 90% or more participation by way of equity or control by Government; and • carries out any of the functions entrusted to a municipality under article 243W of the Constitution. 7.3.2 What are the functions entrusted to a municipality under article 243W of the Constitution? Article 243W of the Constitution is as under: ‘Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Legislature of a State may, by law, endow— (a) the Municipalities with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government and such law may contain provisions for the devolution of powers and responsibilities upon Municipalities, subject to such conditions as may be specified therein, with respect to— (i) the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice; (ii) the performance of functions and the implementation of schemes as may be entrusted to them including those in relation to the matters listed in the Twelfth Schedule; (b) the Committees with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to carry out the responsibilities conferred upon them including those in relation to the matters listed in the Twelfth Schedule.’ Matters listed in twelfth schedule are: 1. Urban planning including town planning. 2. Regulation of land-use and construction of buildings. 3. Planning for economic and social development. 4. Roads and bridges. 5. Water supply for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes. 6. Public health, sanitation conservancy and solid waste management. 7. Fire services. 8. Urban forestry, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects. 9. Safeguarding the interests of weaker sections of society, including the handicapped and mentally retarded. 10. Slum improvement and upgradation. 11. Urban poverty alleviation. 12. Provision of urban amenities and facilities such as parks, gardens, playgrounds. 13. Promotion of cultural, educational and aesthetic aspects. 14. Burials and burial grounds; cremations, cremation grounds; and electric crematoriums. 98 15. Cattle pounds; prevention of cruelty to animals. 16. Vital statistics including registration of births and deaths. 17. Public amenities including street lighting, parking lots, bus stops and public conveniences. 18. Regulation of slaughter houses and tanneries. 7.3.3 Are all services provided by a governmental authority exempt from service tax? No. All services are not exempt. Services by a governmental authority by way of any activity in relation to any function entrusted to a municipality under article 243 W of the Constitution are exempt. All other services are subjected to service tax if they are not otherwise exempt. 7.3.4 Are all services provided to a governmental authority exempt from service tax? No. A governmental authority enjoys same benefits as the Government or a local authority in respect of receipt of services. The following services when provided to a governmental authority are exempt: a) Specified services as listed in Sr. no. 12 of Exhibit A3 relating to construction. b) Services in relation to any function ordinarily entrusted to a municipality in relation to water supply, public health, sanitation conservancy, solid waste management or slum improvement and upgradation. c) Services received from a service provider located in a non- taxable territory by such authorities in relation to any purpose other than commerce, industry or any other business or profession. 7.4 Charities (Details at Sr. No. 4 of Exhibit A3) 7.4.1 I am a registered charity. How do I know that activities provided by me are charitable activities? You are doing charitable activities if you are registered with income tax authorities for this purpose under section 12AA the Income Tax Act, 1961 and carry out one or more of the specified charitable activities. Following are the specified charitable activities:- a) public health by way of – (I) care or counseling of (i) terminally ill persons or persons with severe physical or mental disability, (ii) persons afflicted with HIV or AIDS, or (iii) persons addicted to a dependence-forming substance such as narcotics drugs or alcohol; or (II) public awareness of preventive health, family planning or prevention of HIV infection; b) advancement of religion or spirituality; 99 c) advancement of educational programmes or skill development relating to,- (I) abandoned, orphaned or homeless children; (II) physically or mentally abused and traumatized persons; (III) prisoners; or (IV) persons over the age of 65 years residing in a rural area; d) preservation of environment including watershed, forests and wildlife; or e) advancement of any other object of general public utility up to a value of twenty five lakh rupees in a financial year subject to the condition that total value of such activities had not exceeded twenty five lakh rupees during the preceding financial year. 7.4.2 What is the tax liability of a registered charity on their activities? If a registered charity is doing any activity falling in negative list of services or is otherwise exempt, it is not required to pay service tax on that activity. In case, where its activity is covered explicitly in any of the specified charitable activities at ‘a’ to ‘d’ of the answer to 7.4.1, it is exempt from service tax without any value limit. For charitable activities mentioned at ‘e’, it is exempt up to a value of twenty five lakh rupees in a financial year if the total value of such services had not exceeded twenty five lakh rupees during the preceding financial year. However, this later exemption is available only if the activities are meant for general public. General public is defined in the notification as ‘body of people at large sufficiently defined by some common quality of public or impersonal nature’. 7.5 Religious places/ceremonies (Details at Sr. No. 5 of Exhibit A3) 7.5.1 Is renting of precincts of a religious place taxable? Yes. However, exemption is available only if the place is meant for general public. General public is also defined in the mega notification 25/2012-ST as ‘body of people at large sufficiently defined by some common quality of public or impersonal nature’. 7.5.2 Am I liable to pay service tax for conducting religious ceremonies for my client? No. Conduct of religious ceremonies is exempt under Sr. no. 4 of mega exemption. Religious ceremonies are life-cycle rituals including special religious poojas conducted in terms of religious texts by a person so authorized by such religious texts. Occasions like birth, marriage, and death involve elaborate religious ceremonies. 7.6 Advocates or arbitral tribunals (Details at Sr. No.6 of Exhibit A3) 7.6.1 What is the tax liability of advocates, or arbitral tribunal in respect of services provided by them? Advocates can provide services either as individuals or as firms. Legal services provided by advocates or partnership firms of advocates are exempt from service tax when provided to 100 the following: • an advocate or partnership firm of advocates providing legal services (same class of persons) • any person other than a business entity • a business entity with a turnover up to rupees ten lakh in the preceding financial year However, in respect of services provided to business entities, with a turnover exceeding rupees ten lakh in the preceding financial year, tax is required to be paid on reverse charge by the business entities. Business entity is defined in section 65B of the Finance Act, 1994 as ‘any person ordinarily carrying out any activity relating to industry, commerce or any other business or profession’. Thus it includes sole proprietors as well. The business entity can, however, take input tax credit of such tax paid in terms of Cenvat Credit Rules, 2004, if otherwise eligible. The provisions relating to arbitral tribunal are also on similar lines. 7.6.2 I am serving as a member of an arbitral tribunal comprising many arbitrators and receiving an amount from the arbitral tribunal. Am I providing a service and required to pay service tax on such amount received? Arbitral tribunal comprising more than one arbitrator will constitute an entity by itself. Thus services of individual arbitrator when represented on such an arbitral tribunal will also constitute service by one person to another. However such service is exempt under sr. no. 6(c) of the mega notification. 7.7 Recreational coaching or training (Details at Sr. No. 8 of Exhibit A3) 7.7.1What is the scope of exemption to coaching or training in recreational activities? There is exemption from service tax to training or coaching in recreational activities relating to arts, culture or sports. The benefit is available to coaching or training relating to all forms of dance, music, painting, sculpture making, theatre and sports etc. 7.8 Sports (Details at Sr. No 10 of Exhibit A3) 7.8.1 What is the tax liability on services provided to a recognized sports body? Services provided to a recognized sports body by an individual as a player, referee, umpire, coach or team manager for participation in a sporting event organized by a recognized sports body are exempt from service tax. Similarly services by a recognized sports body to another are also exempt. Services by individuals such as selectors, commentators, curators, technical experts are taxable. Recognized sports body has been defined in the mega notification itself. 7.8.2 Are the services of an individual as a player, umpire in a premier league taxable? The service of a player to a franchisee which is not a recognized sports body is taxable. However, services of an individual as umpire, referee when provided directly to a recognized sports body shall be exempt. 101 7.9 Construction (Details at Sr No 12 to 14 of Exhibit A3) 7.9.1 Which are the construction services exempted when provided to the Government, a local authority or a governmental authority? Exemption is available to the services by way of construction, erection, commissioning, installation, completion, fitting out, repair, maintenance, renovation, or alteration of: A. a civil structure or any other original works meant predominantly for use other than for commerce, industry, or any other business or profession B. a historical monument, archaeological site or remains of national importance, archaeological excavation, or antiquity specified under Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 C. a structure meant predominantly for use as (i) an educational, (ii) a clinical, or (iii) an art or cultural establishment D. canal, dam or other irrigation works E. pipeline, conduit or plant for (i) water supply (ii) water treatment, or (iii) sewerage treatment or disposal F. a residential complex predominantly meant for self-use or the use of their employees or other persons specified in the of a religious building 7.9.2 What is the significance of words predominantly for use other than for commerce, industry, or any other business or profession? The exemption is available for a civil structure or any other original works meant predominantly for use other than for commerce, industry, or any other business or profession. The significance of the word predominantly is that benefit of exemption will not be denied if the building is also incidentally used for some other purposes if it is used primarily for commerce, industry, or any other business or profession. 7.9.3 I am a contractor in number of projects for constructing roads. What is my tax liability on construction of roads under different types of projects? Construction of roads for use by general public is exempt from service tax. Construction of roads which are not for general public use e.g. construction of roads in a factory, residential complex would be taxable. 7.9.4 I am engaged in construction of hospitals and educational institutes. Am I required to pay service tax? If you are constructing such structures for the government, a local authority or a governmental authority, you are not required to pay service tax. If you are constructing for others, you are required to pay tax.
102 7.9.5 What is the service tax liability on construction of a religious building? Service tax is exempt on construction of a building owned by an entity registered under section 12 AA of the Income tax Act, 1961 and meant predominantly for religious use by general public. 7.9.6 I am constructing a residential complex for my client. The houses are predominantly meant for self-use or the use of the employees. Am I required to pay service tax? If your client is other than the Government, a local authority or a governmental authority, you are required to pay service tax. However, exemption is available for services provided to the Government, a local authority or a governmental authority by way of construction of a residential complex predominantly meant for self-use or the use of their employees or other persons specified in the Explanation 1 to clause 44 of section 65 B of the said Act. 7.9.7 What is the service tax liability on construction of two - floor house constructed through a contractor? My contractor is demanding service tax. Is he right in doing so? Service tax is payable on construction of a residential complex having more than one single residential unit. Single residential unit is defined in the notification and means a self-contained residential unit which is designed for use, wholly or principally, for residential purposes for one family. If each of the floors of your house is a single residential unit in terms of the definition, the contractor is rightly demanding service tax. If the title of each of floors is capable of being transferred to another person by mutation in land/ municipal records, both the floors may be considered as separate single residential units. 7.9.8 Are repair, maintenance of airports, ports and railways liable to tax? Yes. They are liable to service tax and the same will be available as input tax credit to railways, port or airport authority, if other conditions are met. 7.9.9 I am setting up a wheat flour mill. The supplier of machines is demanding service tax on erection and installation of machineries and equipments in the flour mill. Is he right in demanding service tax? There is no service tax liability on erection or installation of machineries or equipments for units processing agricultural produce as food stuff excluding alcoholic beverages. You are processing wheat which is made from processing an agricultural produce. Similarly erection or installation of machineries or equipment for dal mills, rice mills, milk dairies or cotton ginning mills would be exempt. 7.10 Copyright (Details at Sr No 15 of Exhibit A3) 7.10.1 Will a music company having the copyright for any sound recording be taxable for his activity of distributing music? Temporary transfer of a copyright relating to original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic work or cinematographic film falling under clause (a) and (b) of sub-section (1) of section 13 of the 103 Indian Copyright Act, 1957 is exempt. A music company would be required to pay service tax as the copyright relating to sound recording falls under clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 13 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. 7.10.2 I am a composer of a song having the copyright for my song. When I allow the recording of the song on payment of some royalty by a music company for further distribution, am I required to pay service tax on the royalty amount received from a music company? No, as the copyright relating to original work of composing song falls under clause (a) of subsection (1) of section 13 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 which is exempt from service tax. Similarly an author having copy right of a book written by him would not be required to pay service tax on royalty amount received from the publisher for publishing the book. A person having the copyright of a cinematographic film would also not be required to pay service tax on the amount received from the film exhibitors for exhibiting the cinematographic film in cinema theatres. 7.10.3 What would be the liability of service tax on various arrangements entered into for screening of cinematographic films by producers/distributors/exhibitors? A detailed circular has been issued by the Board dealing with various arrangements in the context of existing present system of taxation based on positive list of services vide Circular No.148 / 17 / 2011 – ST, dated 13.12.2011. The said circular may be referred for the guidance. However, no service tax is payable on temporary transfer of copyright in relation to cinematographic films as the same is exempt under the mega-notification 25/2012. 7.11 Miscellaneous 7.11.1 I am an artist. How do I know that my activity is subjected to service tax? The activities by a performing artist in folk or classical art forms of music, dance, or theatre are not subjected to service tax. All other activities by an artist in other art forms e.g. western music or dance, modern theatres, performance of actors in films or television serials would be taxable. Similarly activities of artists in still art forms e.g. painting, sculpture making etc. are taxable. 7.11.2 Are the services of an artist as brand ambassador taxable? Who are brand ambassadors? Yes, services provided by an artist as brand ambassador is taxable. Brand ambassador is defined in the mega notification and means a person engaged for promotion or marketing of a brand of goods, service, property or actionable claim, event or endorsement of name, including a trade name, logo or house mark of any person. 7.11.3 What is the significance of declared tariff? Declared tariff is defined in the mega notification. It includes charges for all amenities provided in the unit of accommodation (given on rent for stay) like furniture, air-conditioner, refrigerators or any other amenities, but without excluding any discount offered on the published charges for such unit. Its relevance is in determining the liability to pay service tax on renting of a hotel, 104 inn, guest house, club, campsite or other commercial places meant for residential or lodging purposes as exemption is available where declared tariff of a unit of accommodation is below rupees one thousand per day or equivalent. However, the tax will be liable to be paid on the amount actually charged i.e. declared tariff minus any discount offered. Thus if the declared tariff is Rs 1100/-, but actual room rent charged is Rs 800/-, tax will be required to be paid on Rs 800/-. When the declared tariff is revised as per the tourist season, the liability to pay tax shall be only on the declared tariff for the accommodation where the published/printed tariff is above Rupees 1000/-. However, the revision in tariff should be made uniformly applicable to all customers and declared when such change takes place. 7.11.4 I am running a hotel having the facility of central air-conditioning. There are number of restaurants in the hotel. Am I liable to pay service tax on to serving of food or beverages in these restaurants? Serving of food or beverages in a centrally air-conditioned premise will be taxed if its restaurant has a license to serve alcoholic beverages. However, those restaurants which do not have license to serve alcoholic beverages will be exempt from service tax. Serving of food or beverages outside the restaurant, say near the swimming pool, will be taxed if service is from a restaurant having license to serve alcoholic beverages. 7.11.5 Is giving of a bus on hire to any person liable to tax? Giving on hire a bus to a state transport undertaking is exempt from service tax. If the bus is given on hire to a person other than a state transport undertaking, it will be taxed. 6.11.6 I have a bus with a contract permit and operating the bus on a route. The passengers embark or disembark from the bus at any place falling on the route and pay separate fares either for the whole or for the stages of journey. Am I required to pay tax? No. However, transport of passengers in a contract carriage for the transportation of passengers, for tourism, conducted tour, charter or hire is taxable. 7.11.7 I have taken on rent a piece of vacant land from its owner. The land will be used for providing the facility of vehicles parking on payment. What is my service tax liability? You are not required to pay tax on providing the facility of vehicle parking to general public. However, if you are providing the facility of parking of vehicles to a car dealer, you are be required to pay tax as parking facility is not for general public. Moreover, land owner is liable to pay service tax on renting of his land to you. 7.11.8 What is the tax liability of a RWA on the charges collected from own members by way of reimbursement of charges or share of contribution for the common use of its members in a housing society or a residential complex. Service of an unincorporated body or a non- profit entity registered under any law for the time being in force to its own members up to an amount of Rs 5,000 per member per month by 105 way of reimbursement of charges or share of contribution is exempt from service tax. Where RWA is working as a pure agent of its members for sourcing of goods or services from a third person, amount collected by RWA from its members may be excluded from the value of taxable service in terms of Rule 5(2) 0f Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules, 2006 subject to compliance with the specified conditions. 7.11.9 I am a Resident Welfare Association (RWA). The members contribute an amount to RWA for holding camps to provide health care services to poor men and women. Am I required to pay tax on contribution received from members? No. You are not required to pay service tax on the contribution received as you are carrying out any activity (holding camps to provide health care services) which is exempt from the levy of service tax. If contribution is for carrying out an activity which is taxable, you are required to pay service tax. 7.11.10 What is the tax liability on services by the intermediaries to entities those are liable to pay tax on their final output services? (Details at Sr. No 29 of Exhibit A3) Services by following intermediaries are exempt from service tax: A. sub-broker or an authorised person to a stock broker; B. authorised person to a member of a commodity exchange; C. mutual fund agent to a mutual fund or asset management company; D. distributor to a mutual fund or asset management company; E. selling or marketing agent of lottery tickets to a distributer or a selling agent; F. selling agent or a distributer of SIM cards or recharge coupon vouchers; G. business facilitator or a business correspondent to a banking company or an insurance company in a rural area; or H. sub-contractor providing services by way of works contract to another contractor providing works contract services which are exempt; 7.11.11 Whether the exemption provided in the mega -exemption to services by way of construction of roads, airports, railways, transport terminals, bridges, tunnels, dams etc., is also available to the sub-contractors who provide input service to these main contractors in relation to such construction? As per clause (1) of section 66Freference to a service by nature or description in the Act will not include reference to a service used for providing such service. Therefore, if any person is providing services, in respect of projects involving construction of roads, airports, railways, transport terminals, bridges, tunnels, dams etc., such as architect service, consulting engineer service ., which are used by the contractor in relation to such construction, the benefit of the specified entries in the mega-exemption would not be available to such persons unless the activities carried out by the sub-contractor independently and by itself falls in the ambit of the exemption. It has to be appreciated that the wordings used in the exemption are ‘services by way of construction of roads etc’ and not ‘services in relation to construction of roads etc’. It is thus 106 apparent that just because the main contractor is providing the service by way of construction of roads, airports, railways, transport terminals, bridges, tunnels, dams etc., it would not automatically lead to the classification of services being provided by the sub-contractor to the contractor as an exempt service. However, a sub-contractor providing services by way of works contract to the main contractor, providing exempt works contract services, has been exempted from service tax under the mega exemption if the main contractor is engaged in providing exempt services of works contracts. It may be noted that the exemption is available to sub-contractors engaged in works contracts and not to other outsourced services such as architect or consultants. 7.11.12 What is the tax liability of a person carrying out intermediate production process as job work for his clients? Any process amounting to manufacture or production of goods is in the negative list. If process does not amount to manufacture or production of goods, and is further not covered in clause 30 of the mega notification, the same is liable to service tax. 7.11.13 Whether service tax is leviable on telephone services rendered by M/s. BSNL through Village Panchayat Telephone (VPT) with local call facility, as M/s. BSNL is a public sector unit and telephones run by it cannot be treated as ‘departmentally run telephones’? As per Sl. No. 32 of the mega-exemption Notification in addition to exemption to ‘departmentally run telephones’ there is exemption for ‘Guaranteed Public Telephone operating only for local calls’ also. Village Public Telephones (VPTs) with facility of local calls (without 9 dialing facility or STD facility) run by BSNL would fall under the category of ‘Guaranteed Public Telephone operating only for local calls’. 7.11.14 I am in the business of running a chain of restaurants. I intend to sell my business. Am I required to pay service tax? Services by way of transfer of a going concern, as a whole or an independent part thereof, are exempt from service tax. Therefore, you are not required to pay service tax on such sale of your business. Sale of assets of a business that has closed will be outside the definition of “service” 7.11.15 What does the term ‘transfer of a going concern’ mean? Transfer of a going concern means transfer of a running business which is capable of being carried on by the purchaser as an independent business, but shall not cover mere or predominant transfer of an activity comprising a service. Such sale of business as a whole will comprise comprehensive sale of immovable property, goods and transfer of unexecuted orders, employees, goodwill etc. Since the transfer in title is not merely a transfer in title of either the immovable property or goods or even both it may amount to service and has thus been exempted. 107 7.11.16 Footwear Association of India is organizing a business exhibition in Germany for footwear manufacturers of India. Is Footwear association of India required to pay service tax on services to footwear manufacturers? No. The activity is exempt from service tax. 7.11.17 I am resident in Jammu and Kashmir and planning to construct a property in Delhi. I have got the architectural drawings made from an architect who is also resident in Jammu and Kashmir. Am I liable to pay service tax on architect services? No. Even though the property is located in Delhi- in a taxable territory- your architect is exempt from service tax as both the service provider and the service receiver is in a non-taxable territory. 7.11.18 I am an individual receiving services from a service provider located in nontaxable territory. Am I required to pay service tax? If you are using these services in relation to any purpose other than commerce, industry or any other business or profession, you are required to pay tax under reverse charge, unless you are otherwise exempt. If use is for any other purpose, you are exempt from service tax.