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The New Regime of Service Tax

Service tax is an indirect tax levied on certain taxable services provided by service provider to service recipient. Earlier service tax was levied on those taxable services which were specifically mentioned in the Finance Act,1994. This was called the 'Positive List' and any services mentioned/ added on by subsequent Budgets came under the gamut of service tax. Those not mentioned were exempt from service tax liability. There were 119 specific services up till the period of 30.06.2012 which were taxable.

With the introduction of the 'Negative List' in Service Tax in 2012, effective from 01.07.2012, a complete overhaul of the above regime has been done. Focus has now shifted from the 'Positive' approach to the 'Negative' approach in classification of services. Those services included in the Negative list are now exempted from service tax and any service, if not falling under negative list, are liable to service tax.

In this New Service Tax Regime, emphasis is now laid on:

Qualification of service
Declared services
Negative list of services
Service provided or agreed to be provided in Taxable territory - Taxable Territory means the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Let us further elaborate on the above points:

What qualifies as a service? Any activity by 1 person for another for consideration. It includes declared services; but does not include:

any activity involving transfer of title in goods or immovable property by way of sale/ gift OR a transaction in money/ actionable claim.
services provided by employee to employer in course of employment
fees taken in any court or tribunal.

Consideration means any sum payable for taxable services provided. It includes both monetary and non-monetary considerations.

What are declared services? (Section 66E)

The following 9 services are included in Declared services:

Renting of immovable property;
Construction of a complex, building, civil structure or a part thereof, including a complex or building intended for sale to a buyer, wholly or partly, except where the entire consideration is received after issuance of certificate of completion by a competent authority;
Temporary transfer or permitting the use or enjoyment of any intellectual property right;
Development, design, programming, customization, adaptation, upgradation, enhancement, implementation of information technology software;
Agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act;
Transfer of goods by way of hiring, leasing, licensing or any such manner without transfer of right to use such goods;
Activities in relation to delivery of goods on hire purchase or any system of payment by installments;
Service portion in execution of a works contract;
Service portion in an activity wherein goods, being food or any other article of human consumption or any drink (whether or not intoxicating) is supplied in any manner as part of the activity.
Declared services are taxable to service tax.

What services come in the Negative list? (Section 66D)

In the negative list regime, all services are taxable and only those services mentioned in the negative list are exempted from service tax. In addition to items included in negative list, there will be exemptions, abatements and composition schemes as issued by the CBEC from time to time which will further add more services in negative list.

The Mega Exemption Notification issued by the CBEC (Notification No. 25/2012-Service Tax) and the issuance of guidance paper on the new approach to service tax has mentioned 39 services on which service tax shall be exempt. These services may be added to/ reduced/ amended by subsequent exemptions, abatements and composition schemes of CBEC.

Some of these services are:

Services provided to the United Nations or a specified international organization;
Health care services by a clinical establishment, an authorised medical practitioner or para-medics;
Services by a veterinary clinic in relation to health care of animals or birds;
Services by an entity registered under section 12AA of the Income tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961) by way of charitable activities;
Services by a person by way of-
(a) renting of precincts of a religious place meant for general public; or
(b) conduct of any religious ceremony;
Services provided by-
(a) an arbitral tribunal to -
(i) any person other than a business entity; or
(ii) a business entity with a turnover up to rupees ten lakh in the preceding financial year;
(b) an individual as an advocate or a partnership firm of advocates by way of legal services to,-
(i) an advocate or partnership firm of advocates providing legal services ;
(ii) any person other than a business entity; or
(iii) a business entity with a turnover up to rupees ten lakh in the preceding financial year; or
(c) a person represented on an arbitral tribunal to an arbitral tribunal;
Services by way of technical testing or analysis of newly developed drugs, including vaccines and herbal remedies, on human participants by a clinical research organisation approved to conduct clinical trials by the Drug Controller General of India;
Services by way of training or coaching in recreational activities relating to arts, culture or sports;
Services provided to or by an educational institution in respect of education exempted from service tax, by way of,-
(a) auxiliary educational services; or
(b) renting of immovable property
Services provided to a recognised sports body by-
(a) an individual as a player, referee, umpire, coach or team manager for participation in a sporting event organized by a recognized sports body;
(b) another recognised sports body;
Services by way of sponsorship of sporting events organised,-
(a) by a national sports federation, or its affiliated federations, where the participating teams or individuals represent any district, state or zone;
(b) by Association of Indian Universities, Inter-University Sports Board, School Games Federation of India, All India Sports Council for the Deaf, Paralympic Committee of India or Special Olympics Bharat;
(c) by Central Civil Services Cultural and Sports Board;
(d) as part of national games, by Indian Olympic Association; or
(e) under Panchayat Yuva Kreeda Aur Khel Abhiyaan (PYKKA) Scheme;
Services provided to the Government, a local authority or a governmental authority 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 the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (24 of 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; or
(f) 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;
Services provided by way of construction, erection, commissioning, installation, completion, fitting out, repair, maintenance, renovation, or alteration of,-
(a) a road, bridge, tunnel, or terminal for road transportation for use by general public;
(b) a civil structure or any other original works pertaining to a scheme under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission or Rajiv Awaas Yojana;
(c) a building owned by an entity registered under section 12 AA of the Income tax Act, 1961(43 of 1961) and meant predominantly for religious use by general public;
(d) a pollution control or effluent treatment plant, except located as a part of a factory; or a structure meant for funeral, burial or cremation of deceased;
Services by way of construction, erection, commissioning, or installation of original works pertaining to,-
(a) an airport, port or railways, including monorail or metro;
(b) a single residential unit otherwise than as a part of a residential complex;
(c) low- cost houses up to a carpet area of 60 square metres per house in a housing project approved by competent authority empowered under the ‘Scheme of Affordable Housing in Partnership' framed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India;
(d) post- harvest storage infrastructure for agricultural produce including a cold storages for such purposes; or
(e) mechanised food grain handling system, machinery or equipment for units processing agricultural produce as food stuff excluding alcoholic beverages;
Temporary transfer or permitting the use or enjoyment of a copyright covered under clauses (a) or (b) of sub-section (1) of section 13 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 (14 of 1957), relating to original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works or cinematograph films;
Services by a performing artist in folk or classical art forms of (i) music, or (ii) dance, or (iii) theatre, excluding services provided by such artist as a brand ambassador;
Services by way of collecting or providing news by an independent journalist, Press Trust of India or United News of India;
Services by way of renting of a hotel, inn, guest house, club, campsite or other commercial places meant for residential or lodging purposes, having declared tariff of a unit of accommodation below rupees one thousand per day or equivalent;
Services provided in relation to serving of food or beverages by a restaurant, eating joint or a mess, other than those having (i) the facility of air-conditioning or central air-heating in any part of the establishment, at any time during the year, and (ii) a licence to serve alcoholic beverages;
Services by way of transportation by rail or a vessel from one place in India to another of the following goods -
(a) petroleum and petroleum products falling under Chapter heading 2710 and 2711 of the First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986);
(b) relief materials meant for victims of natural or man-made disasters, calamities, accidents or mishap;
(c) defence or military equipments;
(d) postal mail or mail bags;
(e) household effects;
(f) newspaper or magazines registered with the Registrar of Newspapers;
(g) railway equipments or materials;
(h) agricultural produce;
(i) foodstuff including flours, tea, coffee, jaggery, sugar, milk products, salt and edible oil, excluding alcoholic beverages; or
(j) chemical fertilizer and oilcakes;
Services provided by a goods transport agency by way of transportation of -
(a) fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, food grains or pulses in a goods carriage;
(b) goods where gross amount charged for the transportation of goods on a consignment transported in a single goods carriage does not exceed one thousand five hundred rupees; or
(c) goods, where gross amount charged for transportation of all such goods for a single consignee in the goods carriage does not exceed rupees seven hundred fifty;
Services by way of giving on hire -
(a) to a state transport undertaking, a motor vehicle meant to carry more than twelve passengers; or
(b) to a goods transport agency, a means of transportation of goods;
Transport of passengers, with or without accompanied belongings, by -
(a) air, embarking from or terminating in an airport located in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, or Tripura or at Bagdogra located in West Bengal;
(b) a contract carriage for the transportation of passengers, excluding tourism, conducted tour, charter or hire; or
(c) ropeway, cable car or aerial tramway;
Services by way of vehicle parking to general public excluding leasing of space to an entity for providing such parking facility;
Services provided to Government, a local authority or a governmental authority by way of -
(a) carrying out any activity 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; or
(b) repair or maintenance of a vessel or an aircraft;
Services of general insurance business provided under following schemes -
(a) Hut Insurance Scheme;
(b) Cattle Insurance under Swarnajaynti Gram Swarozgar Yojna (earlier known as Integrated Rural Development Programme);
(c) Scheme for Insurance of Tribals;
(d) Janata Personal Accident Policy and Gramin Accident Policy;
(e) Group Personal Accident Policy for Self-Employed Women;
(f) Agricultural Pumpset and Failed Well Insurance;
(g) premia collected on export credit insurance;
(h) Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme or the Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme, approved by the Government of India and implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture;
(i) Jan Arogya Bima Policy;
(j) National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (Rashtriya Krishi Bima Yojana);
(k) Pilot Scheme on Seed Crop Insurance;
(l) Central Sector Scheme on Cattle Insurance;
(m) Universal Health Insurance Scheme;
(n) Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana; or
(o) Coconut Palm Insurance Scheme;
27. Services provided by an incubatee up to a total turnover of fifty lakh rupees in a financial year subject to the following conditions, namely:-
(a) the total turnover had not exceeded fifty lakh rupees during the preceding financial year; and
(b) a period of three years has not been elapsed from the date of entering into an agreement as an incubatee;
28. Service by an unincorporated body or a non- profit entity registered under any law for the time being in force, to its own members by way of reimbursement of charges or share of contribution -
(a) as a trade union;
(b) for the provision of carrying out any activity which is exempt from the levy of service tax; or
(c) up to an amount of five thousand rupees per month per member for sourcing of goods or services from a third person for the common use of its members in a housing society or a residential complex;
29. Services by the following persons in respective capacities -
(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;
30. Carrying out an intermediate production process as job work in relation to -
(a) agriculture, printing or textile processing;
(b) cut and polished diamonds and gemstones; or plain and studded jewellery of gold and other precious metals, falling under Chapter 71 of the Central Excise Tariff Act ,1985 (5 of 1986);
(c) any goods on which appropriate duty is payable by the principal manufacturer; or
(d) processes of electroplating, zinc plating, anodizing, heat treatment, powder coating, painting including spray painting or auto black, during the course of manufacture of parts of cycles or sewing machines upto an aggregate value of taxable service of the specified processes of one hundred and fifty lakh rupees in a financial year subject to the condition that such aggregate value had not exceeded one hundred and fifty lakh rupees during the preceding financial year;
31. Services by an organiser to any person in respect of a business exhibition held outside India;
32. Services by way of making telephone calls from -
(a) departmentally run public telephone;
(b) guaranteed public telephone operating only for local calls; or
(c) free telephone at airport and hospital where no bills are being issued;
33. Services by way of slaughtering of bovine animals;

34. Services received from a provider of service located in a non- taxable territory by -
(a) Government, a local authority, a governmental authority or an individual in relation to any purpose other than commerce, industry or any other business or profession;
(b) an entity registered under section 12AA of the Income tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961) for the purposes of providing charitable activities; or
(c) a person located in a non-taxable territory;

35. Services of public libraries by way of lending of books, publications or any other knowledge- enhancing content or material;
36. Services by Employees' State Insurance Corporation to persons governed under the Employees' Insurance Act, 1948 (34 of 1948);
37. Services by way of transfer of a going concern, as a whole or an independent part thereof;
38. Services by way of public conveniences such as provision of facilities of bathroom, washrooms, lavatories, urinal or toilets;
39. 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.


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