We all take services from our government or local authority and we often think whether they need to pay any services provided by them to us as they themselves are government and how will they pay GST to themselves.
Therefore in this post let’s discuss various FAQ related to services provided by government like courier service, security service etc.
Q. Are all services provided by the Government or local authority exempted from payment of tax ?
A. No, all services provided by the Government or a local authority are not exempt from tax. As for instance, services, namely, (i) services by the Department of Posts by way of speed post, express parcel post, life insurance, and agency services provided to a person other than Government; (ii) services in relation to an aircraft or a vessel, inside or outside the precincts of an airport or a port; (iii) transport of goods or passengers; or (iv) any service, other than service covered under (i) to (iii) above, provided to business entities are not exempt and that these services are liable to tax.
That said, most of the services provided by the Central Government, State Government, Union Territory or local authority are exempt from tax. These include services provided by government or a local authority or governmental authority by way of any activity in relation to any function entrusted to a municipality under Article 243W of the Constitution and services by a governmental authority by way of any activity in relation to any function entrusted to a Panchayat under article 243G of the Constitution.
Q. Are Government or local authority or governmental authority liable to pay tax?
A. Yes. The Government or a local authority or a governmental authority is liable to pay tax on supply of services other than the services notified as exempt or notified as neither a supply of goods nor a supply of services under clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 7 of the CGST Act, 2017. In respect of services other than – (i) renting of immovable property; (ii) services by the Department of Posts by way of speed post, express parcel post, life insurance, and agency services provided to a person other than Government; and (iii) services in relation to an aircraft or a vessel, inside or outside the precincts of an airport or a port, the service recipients are required to pay the tax under reverse charge mechanism.
Q. Would services provided by one department of the Government to another Department of the Government be taxable?
A. Services provided by one department of the Central Government/State Government to another department of the Central Government/ State Government are exempt under notification No. 12/2017-Central Tax (Rate), dated 28.06.2017 [S No 8 of the Table].
However, this exemption is not applicable to:
(a) services provided by the Department of Posts by way of speed post, express parcel post, life insurance, and agency services provided to a person other than the Central Government, the State Government and Union Territory;
(b) services in relation to a vessel or an aircraft inside or outside the precincts of a port or an airport;
(c) services of transport of goods and/or passengers.
Q. Are various corporations formed under the Central Acts or State Acts or various government companies registered under the Companies Act, 1956/2013 or autonomous institutions set up by special Acts covered under the definition of ‘Government’? (For Eg: ICAI)
A. No. The corporations formed under the Central or a State Act or various companies registered under the Companies Act, 1956/2013 or autonomous institutions set up by the State Acts will not be covered under the definition of ‘Government’ and therefore, services provided by them will be taxable unless exempted by a notification.
Q. Will the services provided by Police or security agencies of Government to PSUs or corporate entities or sports events held by private entities be taxable?
A. Yes. Services provided by Police or security agencies of Government to PSU/private business entities are not exempt from GST. Such services are taxable supplies and the recipients are required to pay the tax under reverse charge mechanism on the amount of consideration paid to Government for such supply of services.
Illustration: The Karnataka Cricket Association, Bangalore requests the Commissioner of Police, Bangalore to provide security in and around the Cricket Stadium for the purpose of conducting the cricket match. The Commissioner of Police arranges the required security for a consideration. In this case, services of providing security by the police personnel are not exempt. As the services are provided by Government, Karnataka Cricket Association is liable to pay the tax on the amount of consideration paid under reverse charge mechanism.
Q. The Department of Posts provides a number of services. What is the status of those services for the purpose of levy of tax?
A. The services by way of speed post, express parcel post, life insurance, and agency services provided to a person other than the Government or Union territory are not exempt. In respect of these services the Department of Posts is liable to pay tax without application of reverse charge. However, the following services provided by the Department of Posts are not liable to tax.
(a) Basic mail services known as postal services such as post card, inland letter, book post, registered post provided exclusively by the Department of Posts to meet the universal postal obligations.
(b) Transfer of money through money orders, operation of savings accounts, issue of postal orders, pension payments and other such services.
Q. Whether the exemption is applicable to online information and database access or retrieval services received by Government or local authorities from provider of service located in non taxable territory?
A. No. Online information and database access or retrieval services received by Government or local authorities from non taxable territory for any purpose including furtherance of business or commerce are liable to tax.
Q. What is the significance of services provided by Government or a local authority by way of tolerating non-performance of a contract for which consideration in the form of fines or liquidated damages is payable to the Government or the local authority ?
A. Non-performance of a contract or breach of contract is one of the conditions normally stipulated in the Government contracts for supply of goods or services. The agreement entered into between the parties stipulates that both the service provider and service recipient abide by the terms and conditions of the contract. In case any of the parties breach the contract for any reason including nonperformance of the contract, then such person is liable to pay damages in the form of fines or penalty to the other party. Non-performance of a contract is an activity or transaction which is treated as a supply of service and the person is deemed to have received the consideration in the form of fines or penalty and is, accordingly, required to pay tax on such amount.
However non performance of contract by the supplier of service in case of supplies to Government is covered under the exemption from payment of tax. Thus any consideration received by the Government from any person or supplier for non performance of contract is exempted from tax.
Illustration: Public Works Department of Karnataka entered into an agreement with M/s. ABC, a construction company for construction of office complex for certain amount of consideration. In the agreement dated 10.7.2017, it was agreed by both the parties that M/s. ABC shall complete the construction work and handover the project on or before 31.12.2017. It was further agreed that any breach of the terms of contract by either party would give right to the other party to claim for damages or penalty. Assuming that M/s. ABC does not complete the construction and handover the project by the specified date i.e., on or before 31.12.2017. As per the contract, the department asks for damages/penalty from M/s. ABC and threatened to go to the court if not paid.
Assuming that M/s ABC has paid an amount of Rs. 10,00,000/- to the department for non performance of contract. Such amount paid to department is exempted from payment of tax.
Q. What is the scope of ‘pure services’ mentioned in the exemption notification No. 12/2017-Central Tax (Rate), dated 28.06.2017?
A. In the context of the language used in the notification, supply of services without involving any supply of goods would be treated as supply of ‘pure services’. For example, supply of man power for cleanliness of roads, public places, architect services, consulting engineer services, advisory services, and like services provided by business entities not involving any supply of goods would be treated as supply of pure services. On the other hand, let us take the example of a governmental authority awarding the work of maintenance of street lights in a Municipal area to an agency which involves apart from maintenance, replacement of defunct lights and other spares. In this case, the scope of the service involves maintenance work and supply of goods, which falls under the works contract services. The exemption is provided to services involves only supply of services and not for works contract services.
Q. Whether a Government Department, required to deduct tax at source, is liable to take registration as a normal taxpayer?
A. The Government Department is required to take registration as a normal taxpayer only if it makes a
taxable supply of goods and/or services and in such cases, the registration shall be obtained on the basis of PAN but Bank account is not mandatory. However, if it is not making any taxable supply of goods and/or services, it is required to register only as a deductor of tax at source on the basis of TAN/PAN.
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