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Leviability of Service Tax on declared service "Agreeing to obligation to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or situation, or to do an act" under Section 66E(e) of Finance Act, 1994- (Ministry of Finance ) (28 Feb 2023)

MANU/DSTX/0003/2023

Goods and Services Tax

1. An issue has arisen on the levy of service tax on liquidated damages arising out of breach of contract, forfeiture of salary or payment of bond amount in the event of the employee leaving the employment before the minimum agreed period and similar other issues arising out of clause (e) of section 66E of the Finance Act, 1994. Reference has also been invited to Circular No. 178/10/2022-GST dated 3rd August, 2022 regarding applicability of GST on liquidated damages, compensation and penalty arising out of breach of contract or other provisions of law, and its applicability to service tax related issues.

2. It may be seen that "Agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act" is a Declared Service as per clause (e) of section 66E of the Finance Act, 1994. A service conceived in an agreement where one person agrees to an obligation to refrain from an act or to tolerate an act or to do an act, would be a 'declared service' under section 66E(e) read with section 65B(44) and would be leviable to service tax.

3. The description of the declared service in question, namely, agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act is similar in GST. "Agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act" has been specifically declared to be a supply of service in para 5 (e) of Schedule II of the CGST Act, 2017.

4. As can be seen, the said expression has three limbs:-i) Agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, ii) Agreeing to the obligation to tolerate an act or a situation, iii) Agreeing to the obligation to do an act. Service of agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act is nothing but a contractual agreement. A contract to do something or to abstain from doing something cannot be said to have taken place unless there are two parties, one of which expressly or impliedly agrees to do or abstain from doing something and the other agrees to pay consideration to the first party for doing or abstaining from such an act. Such contractual arrangement must be an independent arrangement in its own right. There must be a necessary and sufficient nexus between the supply (i.e. agreement to do or to abstain from doing something) and the consideration.

5. The issue also came up in the CESTAT in Appeal No. ST/50080 of 2019 in the case of M/s. Dy. GM (Finance) Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. in which the hon'ble Tribunal relied on the judgment of divisional bench in case of M/s. South Eastern Coal Fields Ltd. Vs. CCE Raipur {2021(55) G.S.T.L. 549(Tri-Del)}. Board has decided not to file appeal against the CESTAT order ST/A/50879/2022-CU[DB] dated 20.09.2022 in this case and also against Order A/85713/2022 dated 12.8.2022 in case of M/s. Western Coalfields Ltd. Further, Board has decided not to pursue the Civil Appeals filed before the Apex Court in M/s. South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. supra (CA No. 2372/2021), M/s. Paradip Port Trust (Dy. No. 24419/2022 dated 08-08-2022), and M/s. Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd. (CA No. 0051-0053/2022) on this ground.

6. In view of above, it is clarified that the activities contemplated under section 66E(e), i.e. when one party agrees to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act, are the activities where the agreement specifically refers to such an activity and there is a flow of consideration for this activity. Field formations are advised that while taxability in each case shall depend on facts of the case, the guidelines discussed above and jurisprudence that has evolved over time, may be followed in determining whether service tax on an activity or transaction needs to be levied treating it as service by way of agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act. Contents of Circular No. 178/10/2022-GST dated 3rd August, 2022, may also be referred to in this regard.

Tags : LEVIABILITY   SERVICE TAX   DECLARED SERVICE  

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