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Reimbursement of expenses is not part of charges for taxable services PDF Print E-mail
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Submitted by Kaushalya Kumari   

A. General discussions about reimbursement of expenses:

1. Terms and conditions as to expenses:

The service provider and the service receiver may settle the terms and conditions about the service charges payable for specific services - In case the service provider agrees to take consolidated amount for services to be rendered including all expenses to be incurred in connection with services then the total consideration agreed will be the consideration for services rendered.  In such a case the service provider incurs all expenses on his own account and behalf and not on account of service receiver.

In case the service provider agrees to a fixed charge for service and also agree to reimburse certain expenses to be incurred by the service provider on behalf of the service receiver or the expenses to be incurred by the service receiver himself in connection with facilitation of services to be availed then the service receiver agrees to provide requisite facilities or to reimburse expenses for such service facilities.  In such case the service provider may incur some expenses for and on behalf of the service receiver and may claim reimbursement.

2. Expenses relating to service receiver as principal:

The service receiver in his capacity of principal can agrees to provide certain facilities and in case the service provider incurs the expenses then to reimburse the same to the service provider.  In such case as is expected from an agent, the agent (service provider) should claim actual expenses without any add-on or margin thereon and the agent should also provide supporting documents to the principal i.e. the service receiver.  In case these conditions are not fulfilled then an inference may be drawn that the service provider has not acted as an agent and he has incurred expenses on his own account in relation to services to be rendered by him.

3. Incurring expenses as agent and claiming reimbursement:

To make a claim of reimbursement the expenses should be incurred as an agent and a claim should be raised for reimbursement and not as a charge for the service.  To establish these facts it is advisable that the expenses incurred should be supported by bills / cash memos in name of the service receiver though a mention can be made of the service provider as his agent for example, the bill can be in name of the principal (service receiver) through the agent (service receiver).

4. Expenses incurred as principal will be different:

4) If the service provider incurs expenses as principal for example, suppose, the bill is in name of the service provider without any indication of the expenses incurred on account of service receiver then an inference can be drawn that the expenses are incurred as principal on the account of the service provider himself and not on account of service receiver.

5. Out of pocket expenses:

Any out of pocket expenses incurred for attending the assignment like traveling expenses, boarding and lodging expense, and other miscellaneous expenses while on tour for client or customer, which are reimbursed by the client or customer, cannot be considered as service charges, fees or remuneration. It is just like traveling expenses of employees working for employer while on tour. Can traveling expenses be considered as salary of an executive? The obvious answer is no. similarly traveling expenses of a professional or other service provider cannot be considered as his fees.

If such expenses are also included within the meaning of salary or fees, it will lead to anomalous situations.  For an example, if the expenses are directly made by the client they will not be fees but if the expenses are incurred by the professionals and reimbursed by the client then it will be considered as fees. The difference created only because of difference in time and manner of payment, is not at all logical, reasonable or justified.  Therefore, it cannot be said that the expenses incurred by the professionals who are reimbursed by the client is a part of fees.

6. Examples of out of pocket expenses:

A. A client purchased air tickets for auditors costing Rs. 10 lakh - no tax is deductible as tickets are not professional fees it is not part of taxable value of service.

Auditor purchased air tickets, on account of and for the purpose of client and got reimbursement of  Rs. ten lakh.

There is no justification, if the expenses incurred and claimed as re-imbursement is included in taxable value of service.

In case of reimbursement the service provider is some other person:

When a reimbursement is claimed, it means that there is some other person who has provided some service or supply. The claimant has received some goods or services from other persons who supplied goods or rendered services. Therefore, the claimant is not a service provider but the person from whom service is availed is the service provider. The claimant has availed such service for and on account of the client and not on his own account. Therefore, in such a case a service is provided by another service provider to the main client through the middle service provider.

Example: A CA takes project for verification of assets of a steel plant on the following basis:

Fees for supervision and certification Rs. 500000/-

Reimbursement of recruitment service Providers  (RSP) on actual basis fro manpower Supplied by RSP for the assignment.

Or

The Steel plant to avail services of Recruitment Service provider (RSP) for verification purposes and to arrange for manpower for verification under supervision of CA.

In both cases services of RSP are availed by the Steel Plant. The CA while obtaining bill of RSP and paying to him must clearly mention that the supply of manpower is to Steel plant and on account of steel plant.

In this case there is a separate service provide RSP. He will charge service tax, if applicable.

Now suppose in the above case CA agrees to render service to Steel Plant for a consideration of Rs. 15,00,000 inclusive for manpower required. He may provide his own assistants and / or avail manpower from other CA’s or RSP.

In such a case there will be no claim for reimbursement from plant. The entire amount of Rs, fifteen lakh will be his fees for verification of assets. If such service falls in taxable category, then tax will be levied on full service. If a tax is levied on services availed from other CA’s or RSP, then CA will claim CENVAT for input services.

7. CENVAT credit

In case the reimbursement of expenses is claimed then care should be taken that CENVAT credit in respect of tax or duty included in the claims for reimbursement should be claimed only by the service receiver because expenses are incurred on his behalf and the agent (service provider) should not claim CENVAT credit for the same if the service provider claims such CENVAT credit then principal of agency will be failed.

8) Reimbursement of expenses is not charges for service

As discussed in earlier paragraphs agreed reimbursement of expenses cannot be considered as part of charges for service rendered by service provider.  Therefore, such expenses are not includible in valuation of taxable service.  However, as indicated above there lies very thin line of facts and circumstances, which can lead to conclusion both way as to whether the expenses are incurred on account of service provider himself or on account of service receiver.  Therefore, care should be taken while claiming reimbursement pursuant to the contract of service and any adverse factor which indicates that the claim for reimbursement is not of actual expenses but with some add-on or margin then inference can be drawn that it is not reimbursement but it is part of value of service rendered.

B. Rule providing Service Tax on Reimbursement is Ultra Vires the Act:

Delhi High Court has  recently in case of Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats Pvt. Ltd. vs. of India  2012 (12) TMI 150 has held that the Rule providing service tax on reimbursement is ultravirse the main provisions of the Service Tax law contained in the Chapter V of the Finance Act ,1994,  particularly sections 66 , 67 and 94. Court held that  imposing Service Tax on reimbursements is not in the scheme of law and such a provision is ultra vires the Act itself. In this judgment, the court has held that what is to be taxed is the gross amount charged by the service provider ‘for such service’. The words ‘such service’ are important for taxation. It is only the value of ‘such service’ which can be taxed and nothing else. The value of service, to be taxed, can, therefore, never exceed the gross amount charged by the service provider for such service provided. Thus, there can be no Service Tax on reimbursements as such reimbursements (say, travelling, accommodation etc.) as it would amount to double taxation.

The Court also considered the Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules, 2006 vis a vis the provisions of the Finance Act governing Service Tax- thus the Court also considered the vires of the Rules in light of delegated powers to make Rules for the purposes of carrying out the provisions.

Section 67 states that ‘Service tax was to be charged on the gross value including reimbursable and out of pocket expenses’ – Charging Section 66 states that ‘the charge of service tax is on the value of taxable services’ - Section 67 (1) makes the provisions of the section subject to the provisions of Chapter V, which includes Section 66 - This is a clear mandate that the value of taxable services for charging service tax has to be in consonance with Section 66 which levies a tax only on the taxable service and nothing else - Rule 5 (1) which provides for inclusion of the expenditure or costs incurred by the service provider in the course of providing the taxable service in the value for the purpose of charging service tax is ultra vires Section 66 and 67

Rule 5 may also result in double taxation - If the expenses on air travel tickets are already subject to service tax and is included in the bill, to charge service tax again on the expense would certainly amount to double taxation. It is true that there can be double taxation, but it is equally true that it should be clearly provided for and intended; at any rate, double taxation cannot be enforced by implication.

The Court applied the ratio laid down in a judgment relating to Income-tax in case of Taj Mahal Hotel (1971) (8) TMI 2 - SUPREME COURT) wherein the Supreme Court held that:

“The Rules were meant only for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Act and they could not take away what was conferred by the Act or whittle down its effect.”

Rule 5 (1) of the Rules runs counter and is repugnant to Sections 66 and 67 of the Act and to that extent it is ultra vires the Act. It purports to tax not what is due from the service provider under the charging Section, but it seeks to extract something more from him by including in the valuation of the taxable service the other expenditure and costs which are incurred by the service provider “in the course of providing taxable service”. What is brought to charge under the relevant Sections is only the consideration for the taxable service. By including the expenditure and costs, Rule 5(1) goes far beyond the charging provisions and cannot be upheld.

Procedure for sub-ordinate legislation cannot make them equal to main law:

The fact that the rules framed under the Act have to be laid before each House of Parliament would not confer validity of a rule if it is made not in conformity with main provisiosn of the relevant Act.

Thus the Rule 5(1) has been held to be ultra virse the Act, and not ultra virse the Indian Constitution, as stated in some other websites.

C. The judgment with highlights for analysis is reproduced below:

2012 (12) TMI 150 - DELHI HIGH COURT
INTERCONTINENTAL CONSULTANTS AND TECHNORATS PVT. LTD. Versus U.O.I. & ANR.

No. - W.P. (C) 6370/2008

Dated - 30 November 2012

Judgment / Order

S. Ravindra Bhat And R.V. Easwar, JJ

Appellant Rep. by : Mr. J. K. Mittal, Mr. Arun Gulati and Mr. V. K. Jha, Adv

Respondent Rep. by : Ms. Sonia Sharma and Mr. V. C. Jha, Adv

JUDGEMENT

Per: R V Easwar, J:

In this writ petition, the petitioner challenges the constitutional validity of Rule 5 of the Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules, 2006 to the extent it includes re-imbursement of expenses in the value of taxable services for the purposes of levy of service tax. The petitioner also contends, in the alternative that the said rule is ultra vires of the provisions of Section 66 and 67 of Chapter V of the Finance Act, 1994.

2. The petitioner is a company providing consulting engineering services. It specialises in highways, structures, airports, urban and rural infrastructural projects and is engaged in various road projects outside and inside India. In the course of the carrying on of its business, the petitioner rendered consultancy services in respect of highway projects to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). The petitioner receives payments not only for its service but is also reimbursed expenses incurred by it such as air travel, hotel stay, etc. It was paying service tax in respect of amounts received by it for services rendered to its clients. It was not paying any service tax in respect of the expenses incurred by it, which was reimbursed by the clients. On 19.10.2007, the Superintendent (Audit) Group II (Service Tax), New Delhi issued a letter to the petitioner on the subject “service tax audit for the financial year 2002-03 to 2006-07” and informed the petitioner as follows: -

“During the scrutiny of the records it was observed that you have been charging and depositing service tax on remuneration income only in the case of invoices issued in the name of M/s. NHAI (National Highway Authority of India). As per the provision of sub-rule (i) of Rule 5 of the Service Tax (Determination of value) Rules, (Notification number 12/2006-ST, dated 19.04.2006) the service tax is liable to be charged on the gross value including reimbursable and out of pocket expenses like travelling, lodging and boarding etc.

As per records, it was found that you have short paid Service Tax amounting to Rs. 1,30,26,572/- for the financial year 2006-07. You are hereby directed to deposit the due service tax along with interest @ 13% under section 73 and 75 respectively of the Finance Act, 1994 within 15 days.

The matter may please be treated MOST URGENT/ TIME BOUND.”

3. In response to the above letter the petitioner provided monthwise details of professional income as well as reimbursable out of pocket expenses for the period mentioned in the letter. On 17.03.2008, a show-cause notice was issued by the Commissioner, Service Tax Commissionerate by which the petitioner was asked to show-cause why service tax of Rs. 3,55,80,738/- should not be recovered from it along with interest and penalty under Sections 76, 77 and 78 of the Finance Act, 1994. The aforesaid figure of service tax was arrived at in the following manner in the show-cause notice.

Period


Reimbursable Income


Rate of Service Tax


Service Tax Payable


Total

Service Tax


Edu. Cess

Oct’02 to April’03


99,42,433/-


5%


4,97,122/-


-


4,97,122/-

May’03 to Aug’04


4,87,83,282/-


8%


39,02,662/-


-


39,02,662/-

Sep’04 to March’06*


13,22,66,980/-


10.2%


1,32,26,698/-


2,64,534/-


1,34,91,232/-

April’06 to March’07


14,45,23,874/-


12.24%


1,73,42,865/-


3,46,857/-


1,76,89,722/-

Total


33,55,16,569/-





3,49,69,347/-


6,11,391/-


3,55,80,738/-

*(Note: - For the period prior to April’06, the reimbursable income on account of traveling lodging and boarding have not been taken into account).

4. The basis of the show-cause notice was the provisions of sub-rule (1) of Rule 5 of the Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules, 2006. It was the case of the respondent that under the aforesaid rule, service tax was to be charged on the gross value including reimbursable and out of pocket expenses such as travelling, boarding and lodging, transportation, office rent, office supplies and utilities, testing charges, etc. which, according to the respondent, were “essential expenses for providing the taxable service of consulting engineers”. It was stated in the show-cause notice that prior to 19.04.2006, under Section 67 of the Finance Act, 1994, the value of taxable services in relation to consulting engineer services provided or to be provided by a consulting engineer to the client shall be the gross amount charged from the client in respect of engineering services.

5. The petitioner has filed the present writ petition with three prayers;

(i) quashing rule 5 in its entirety of the Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules, 2006 to the extent it includes the reimbursement of expenses in the value of taxable service for the purpose of charging service tax and

(ii) declaring the rule to be unconstitutional and ultra vires Sections 66 and 67 of the Finance Act, 1994 and

(iii) for quashing the impugned show-cause notice-cum-demand dated 17.03.2008 holding that it is illegal, arbitrary, without jurisdiction and unconstitutional.

6. There is no dispute that the petitioner obtained service tax code from service tax authorities for future payment of service tax w. e. f. 01.07.2002, nor is it in dispute that on 09.07.2007 the petitioner got itself registered with the service tax department as consulting engineering services and was paying service tax since 1997 regularly.

7. Service tax was introduced by Chapter V of the Finance Act, 1994. Section 65 (105) defined “taxable service”. It contains several clauses but, herein we are concerned only with clause (g) which is applicable to the petitioner. Any service provided to any person, by a consulting engineer in relation to advice, consultancy or technical assistance in any manner in one or more disciplines of engineering including the discipline of computer hardware engineering is defined to be a taxable service under this clause. The charge of service tax is effectuated in Section 66 of the Act. It says that “there shall be levy of tax (hereinafter referred to as the service tax) @ 12% of the value of taxable services referred to in sub-clauses…………….of Section 65 and collected in such manner as may be prescribed”. Section 67 of the Act as it stood before being substituted by the Finance Act, 2006, w. e. f. 01.05.2006 was as under: -

“67. Valuation of taxable services for charging service tax

For the purposes of this Chapter, the value of any taxable service shall be the gross amount charged by the service provider for such provided or to be provided by him.

Explanation 1.- For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that the value of a taxable service, as the case may be, includes,-

(a) the aggregate of commission or brokerage charges by a broker on the sale or purchase of securities including the commission or brokerage paid by the stock-broker to any sub-broker.

(b) the adjustments made by the telegraph authority from any deposits made by the subscriber at the time of application for telephone connection or pager or facsimile or telegraph or telex or for leased circuit;

(c) the amount of premium charged by the insurer from the policy holder;

(d) the commission received by the air travel agent from the airline;

(e) the commission, fee or any other sum received by an actuary, or intermediary or insurance intermediary or insurance agent from the insurer;

(f) the reimbursement received by the authorized service station from manufacturer for carrying out any service of nay motor car, light motor vehicle or two wheeled motor vehicle manufactured by such manufacturer; and

(g) the commission or any amount received by the rail travel agent from the Railways or the customer,

But does not include-

(i) initial deposit made by the subscriber at the time of application for telephone connection or pager or facsimile (FAX) or telephone or telex or for leased circuit;

(ii) the cost of unexposed photography film, unrecorded magnetic tape or such other storage devices, if any, sold to the client during the course of providing the service;

(iii) the cost of parts or accessories, or consumable such as lubricants and coolants, if any, sold to the customer during the course of service or repair of motor cars, light motor vehicle or two wheeled motor vehicles;

(iv) the airfare collected by air travel agent in respect of service provided by him;

(v) the rail fare collected by rail travel agent in respect of service provided by him;

(vi) the cost of parts or other material, if any, sold to the customer during the course of providing maintenance or repair service;

(vii) the cost of parts or other material, if any, sold to the customer during the course of providing erection, commissioning or installation service; and

(viii) interest on loan.

Explanation 2 - Where the gross amount charged by a service provider is inclusive of service tax payable, the value of taxable service shall be such amount as with the addition of tax payable, is equal to the gross amount charged.

Explanation 3.- For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that the gross amount charged for the taxable service shall include any amount received towards the taxable service before, during or after provision of such service.”

8. The new Section 67 which came into effect from 01.05.2006 is shorter and it is as follows: -

“67. Valuation of taxable services for charging service tax

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, where service tax is chargeable on any taxable service with reference to its value, then such value shall, -

(i) in a case where the provision of service is for a consideration in money, be the gross amount charged by the service provider for such service provided or to be provided by him;

(ii) in a case where the provision of service is for a consideration not wholly or partly consisting of money, be such amount in money as, with the addition of service tax charged, is equivalent to the consideration;

(iii) in a case where the provision of service is for a consideration which is not ascertainable, be the amount as may be determined in the prescribed manner.

(2) Where the gross amount charged by a service provider, for the service provided or to be provided is inclusive of service tax payable, the value of such taxable service shall be such amount as, with the addition of tax payable, is equal to the gross amount charged.

(3) The gross amount charged for the taxable service shall include any amount received towards the taxable service before, during or after provision of such service.

(4) Subject to the provisions of sub-sections (1), (2) and (3), the value shall be determined in such manner as may be prescribed.

Explanation: For the purpose of this section, -

(a) “consideration” includes any amount that is payable for the taxable services provided or to be provided;

(b) “money” includes any currency, cheque, promissory note, letter of credit, draft, pay order, travelers cheque, money order, postal remittance and other similar instruments but does not include currency that is held for its numismatic value;

(c) “gross amount charged” includes payment by cheque, credit card, deduction from account and any form of payment by issue of credit notes or debit notes and book adjustment, and any amount credited or debited, as the case may be, to any account, whether called “Suspense account” or by any other name, in the books of accounts of a person liable to pay service tax, where the transaction of taxable service is with any associated enterprise.”

9. The Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules, 2006, hereinafter referred to as “Rules”, was brought into effect from 01.06.2007. Rule 5 provided for “inclusion in or exclusion from value of certain expenditure or costs”. It is necessary to reproduce the rule, which is as follows: -

“5. Inclusion in or exclusion from value of certain expenditure or costs

(1) Where any expenditure or costs are incurred by the service provider in the course of providing taxable service, all such expenditure or costs shall be treated as consideration for the taxable service provided or to be provided and shall be included in the value for the purpose of charging service tax on the said service.

(2) Subject to the provisions of sub-rule (1), the expenditure or costs incurred by the service provider as a pure agent of the recipient of service, shall be excluded from the value of the taxable service if all the following conditions are satisfied, namely: -

the service provider acts as a pure agent of the recipient of service when he makes payment to third party for the goods or services procured;
the recipient of service receives and uses the goods or services so procured by the service provider in his capacity as pure agent of the recipient of service;
the recipient of service is liable to make payment to the third party;
the recipient of service authorities the service provider to make payment on his beahfl;
the recipient of service knows that the goods and services for which payment has been made by the service provider shall be provided by the third party;
the payment made by the service provider on behalf of the recipient of service has been separately indicated in the invoice issued by the service provider to the recipient of service;
the service provider recovers from the recipient of service only such amount as has been paid by him to the third party; and
the goods or services procured by the service provider from the third party as a pure agent of the recipient of service are in addition to the services he provides on his own account.

Explanation 1 : For the purposes of sub-rule (2), “pure agent” means a person who -

enters into a contractual agreement with the recipient of service to act as his pure agent to incur expenditure or costs in the course of providing taxable service;
neither intends to hold nor holds any title to the goods or services so procured or provided as pure agent of the recipient of service;
does not use such goods or services so procured; and
receives only the actual amount incurred to procure such goods or services.

Explanation 2 : For the removal of doubts it is clarified that the value of the taxable service is the total amount of consideration consisting of all components of the taxable service and it is immaterial that the details of individual components of the total consideration is indicated separately in the invoice.

Illustration 1 : X contracts with Y, a real estate agent to sell his house and thereupon Y gives an advertisement in television. Y billed X including charges for Television advertisement and paid service tax on the total consideration billed. In such a case, consideration for the service provided is what X pays to Y. Y does not act as an agent behalf of X when obtaining the television advertisement even if the cost of television advertisement is mentioned separately in the invoice issued by X. Advertising service is an input service for the estate agent in order to enable or facilitate him to perform his services as an estate agent.

Illustration 2 : In the course of providing a taxable service, a service provider incurs costs such as traveling expenses, postage, telephone, etc., and may indicate these items separately on the invoice issued to the recipient of service. In such a case, the service provider is not acting as an agent of the recipient of service but procures such inputs or input service on his own account for providing the taxable service. Such expenses do not become reimbursable expenditure merely because they are indicated separately in the invoice issued by the service provider to the recipient of service.

Illustration 3 : A contracts with B, an architect for building a house. During the course of providing the taxable service, B incurs expenses such as telephone charges, air travel tickets, hotel accommodation, etc., to enable him to effectively perform the provision of services to A. In such a case, in whatever form B recovers such expenditure from A, whether as a separately itemised expense or as part of an inclusive overall fee, service tax is payable on the total amount charged by B. Value of the taxable service for charging service tax is what A pays to B.

Illustration 4 : Company X provides a taxable service of rent-a-cab by providing chauffeur-driven cars for overseas visitors. The chauffeur is given a lump sum amount to cover his food and overnight accommodation and any other incidental expenses such as parking fees by the Company X during the tour. At the end of the tour, the chauffeur returns the balance of the amount with a statement of his expenses and the relevant bills. Company X charges these amounts from the recipients of service. The cost incurred by the chauffeur and billed to the recipient of service constitutes part of gross amount charged for the provision of services by the company X.”

10. The contention of the petitioner that Rule 5(1) of the Rules, in as much as it provides that all expenditure or costs incurred by the service provider in the course of providing the taxable service shall be treated as consideration for the taxable service and shall be included in the value for the purpose of charging service tax goes beyond the mandate of Section 67 merits acceptance. Section 67 as it stood both before 01.05.2006 and after has been set out hereinabove.

This section quantifies the charge of service tax provided in Section 66, which is the charging section. Section 67, both before and after 01.05.2006 authorises the determination of the value of the taxable service for the purpose of charging service tax under Section 66 as the gross amount charged by the service provider for such service provided or to be provided by him, in a case where the consideration for the service is money. The underlined words i.e. “for such service” are important in the setting of Section 66 and 67. The charge of service tax under Section 66 is on the value of taxable services. The taxable services are listed in Section 65(105). The service provided by the petitioner falls under clause (g). It is only the value of such service that is to say, the value of the service rendered by the petitioner to NHAI, which is that of a consulting engineer, that can be brought to charge and nothing more. The quantification of the value of the service can therefore never exceed the gross amount charged by the service provider for the service provided by him. Even if the rule has been made under Section 94 of the Act which provides for delegated legislation and authorises the Central Government to make rules by notification in the official gazette, such rules can only be made “for carrying out the provisions of this Chapter” i.e. Chapter V of the Act which provides for the levy, quantification and collection of the service tax. The power to make rules can never exceed or go beyond the section which provides for the charge or collection of the service tax.

11. In the aforesaid backdrop of the basic features of any legislation on tax, we have no hesitation in ruling that Rule 5 (1) which provides for inclusion of the expenditure or costs incurred by the service provider in the course of providing the taxable service in the value for the purpose of charging service tax is ultra vires Section 66 and 67 and travels much beyond the scope of those sections. To that extent it has to be struck down as bad in law. The expenditure or costs incurred by the service provider in the course of providing the taxable service can never be considered as the gross amount charged by the service provider “for such service” provided by him. The illustration 3 given below the Rule amplifies what is meant by sub-rule (1). In the illustration given, the architect who renders the service incurs expenses such as telephone charges, air travel tickets, hotel accommodation, etc. to enable him to effectively perform the services.

The illustration, therefore, says that these expenses are to be included in the value of the taxable service. The illustration clearly shows how the boundaries of Section 67 are breached by the Rule. Apart from travelling beyond the scope and mandate of the Section, the Rule may also result in double taxation. If the expenses on air travel tickets are already subject to service tax and is included in the bill, to charge service tax again on the expense would certainly amount to double taxation. It is true that there can be double taxation, but it is equally true that it should be clearly provided for and intended; at any rate, double taxation cannot be enforced by implication. A Constitution Bench of the Supreme court in Jain Brothers v. of India, 1969 (11) TMI 1 - SUPREME COURT observed as follows, expounding the principles relating to double taxation: -

“It is not disputed that there can be double taxation if the legislature has distinctly enacted it. It is only when there are general words of taxation and they have to be interpreted, they cannot be so interpreted as to tax the subject twice over to the same tax (vide Channell J. in Stevens v. Durban-Roodepoort Gold Mining Co. Ltd.). The Constitution does not contain any prohibition against double taxation even if it be assumed that such a taxation is involved in the case of a firm and its partners after the amendment of section 23(5) by the Act of 1956. Nor is there any other enactment which interdicts such taxation. It is true that section 3 is the general charging section. Even if section 23(5) provides for the machinery for collection and recovery of the tax, once the legislature has, in clear terms, indicated that the income of the firm can be taxed in accordance with the Finance Act of 1956 as also the income in the hands of the partners, the distinction between a charging and a machinery section is of no consequence. Both the sections have to be read together and construed harmoniously. It is significant that similar provisions have also been enacted in the Act of 1961. Sections 182 and 183 correspond substantially to section 23(5) except that the old section did not have a provision similar to sub-section (4) of section 182. After 1956, therefore, so far as registered firms are concerned the tax payable by the firm itself has to be assessed and the share of each partner in the income of the firm has to be included in his total income and assessed to tax accordingly. If any double taxation is involved the legislature itself has, in express words, sanctioned it. It is not open to any one thereafter to invoke the general principles that the subject cannot be taxed twice over.”

12. There is ample authority for the proposition that the rules cannot override or overreach the provisions of the main enactment. In Central Bank of India v. Their Workmen, AIR 1960 SC 12, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court was concerned with the Banking Companies Act, 1949. Section 10 of the Act prohibit the grant of industrial bonus to bank employees in as much as such bonus is remuneration which takes the form of a share in the profits of the banking company. Rule 5 of the Banking Companies Rules, 1949, which were statutory rules, required a banking company to send periodically to the principle office of the Reserve Bank a statement in Form-I showing the remuneration paid during the previous calendar year to officers of the company. In a footnote to the Form, it was stated that remuneration includes salary, house allowance, dearness allowance, bonus, fees and allowances to Directors, etc. The contention was that Rule 5 enlarged the meaning and content of Section 10. The contention was repelled but not on the ground that the rule can validly enlarge the content of the Section, but on the ground that the Section itself used the word “remuneration” in the widest sense. It was however acknowledged by the Court that the Rule cannot go beyond the statute. The relevant observations are: -

“We do not say that a statutory rule can enlarge the meaning of S.10; if a rule goes beyond what the Section contemplates, the rule must yield to the statute. We have, however, pointed out earlier that S.10 itself uses the word “remuneration” in the widest sense, and R.5 and Form-I are to that extent in consonance with the Section.”

It has not been suggested in the present case that the words “consideration in money” or “the gross amount charged” themselves have been used in section 67 in the widest sense of including the amounts collected by the service provider for his travel, hotel stay, transportation and other out of pocket expenses. These words have been defined in the Explanation below the section and it is significant that the out of pocket expenses such as travel, hotel stay, transportation etc. have not been included in those expressions.

13. In Babaji Kondaji Garad v. Nasik Merchants Co-operative Bank Ltd., (1984) 2 SCC 50, the Supreme Court (Three-Judge Bench) observed as under: -

“Now if there is any conflict between a statute and the subordinate legislation, it does not require elaborate reasoning to firmly state that the statute prevails over subordinate legislation and the bye-law, if not in conformity with the statute in order to give effect to the statutory provision the Rule or bye-law has to be ignored. The statutory provision has precedence and must be complied with.”

14. A learned single Judge of this Court in Devi Datt v. of India, AIR 1985 Delhi 195 held that though the language of Rule 102 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Rules, 1955 was wider in its ambit and covered the properties comprised in the compensation bill and entrusted to a managing officer for management, “but obviously the said rule has to be construed in the light of the parent Section and it cannot be construed as enlarging the scope of Section 19 itself. It is a well settled canon of construction that the Rules made under a statute must be treated exactly as if they were in the Act and are of the same effect as if contained in the Act. There is another principle equally fundamental to the rules of construction, namely, that the Rules shall be consistent with the provisions of the Act. Hence, Rule 102 has to be construed in conformity with the scope and ambit of Section 19 and it must be ignored to the extent it appears to be inconsistent with provisions of Section 19”. In making these observations, the learned single Judge referred to and followed the judgment of the Supreme Court in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Babu Ram Upadhyay, AIR 1961 SC 751.

15. In the tax jurisprudence the position is no different and it has been held in CIT v. S. Chenniappa Mudaliar, 1969 (2) TMI 10 - SUPREME COURT that if a rule clearly comes into conflict with the main enactment or if there is any repugnancy between the substantive provisions of the Act and the Rules made therein, it is the rule which must give way to the provisions of the Act. In Bimal Chandra Banerjee v. State of M.P. and Ors., 1970 (8) TMI 30 - SUPREME COURT, Hegde J. was examining the provisions of the M.P. Excise Act, 1915. The legislature levied excise duty only on those articles which came within the scope of Section 25 of that Act. The rule-making authority, which was the State Government, purported to levy duty on articles which did not fall within the scope of the Section. Holding this act of the State Government to be ultra vires the Section, it was observed as under: -

“No tax can be imposed by any bye-law or rule or regulation unless the statute under which the subordinate legislation is made specially authorises the imposition even if it is assumed that the power to tax can be delegated to the executive. The basis of the statutory power conferred by the statute cannot be transgressed by the rule making authority. A rule making authority has no plenary power. It has to act within the limits of the power granted to it.

16. In CIT, Andhra Pradesh v. Taj Mahal Hotel, 1971 (8) TMI 2 - SUPREME COURT it was held by the Supreme Court that:

“the Rules were meant only for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Act and they could not take away what was conferred by the Act or whittle down its effect.”

17. In Commissioners of Customs and Excise v. Cure and Deeley Ltd., (1961) 3 WLR 788 (QB) the facts were these. Section 33(1) of the Finance Act, 1940 of the United Kingdom enacted that the Commissioners might make regulations providing for any method for which provision appeared to them to be necessary for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of the Act and of enabling them to discharge the functions. The Commissioners framed Regulation 12 of the Purchase Tax Regulations, 1945. It stated that if any person failed to furnish a return as required by the regulation or furnished an incomplete return, then the Commissioners could determine the amount of tax appearing to them to be due from such person, and demand payment thereof. Such amount determined by the Commissioners was to be deemed to be the proper tax due from such person and the tax had to be paid within 7 days of the demand. The regulations did not provide for any appeal or for taking up the decision of the Commissioners to any Court of law. The validity of the regulation came up for consideration before the Court. Sachs J., observed as follows: -

“To my mind a Court is bound before reaching a decision on the question whether a regulation is intra vires to examine the nature, objects, and scheme of the piece of legislation as a whole, and in the light of that examination to consider exactly what is the area over which powers are given by the section under which the competent authority is purporting to act.”

It was ultimately held by the Court that Regulation 12 was ultra vires on three grounds. One of the grounds, which is relevant for our purpose, was that the regulation rendered the subject liable to pay such tax as the Commissioner believed to be due whereas the charging Section imposed a liability to pay such tax as in law was due.

18. Section 66 levies service tax at a particular rate on the value of taxable services. Section 67 (1) makes the provisions of the section subject to the provisions of Chapter V, which includes Section 66. This is a clear mandate that the value of taxable services for charging service tax has to be in consonance with Section 66 which levies a tax only on the taxable service and nothing else. There is thus in built mechanism to ensure that only the taxable service shall be evaluated under the provisions of 67. Clause (i) of sub-section (1) of Section 67 provides that the value of the taxable service shall be the gross amount charged by the service provider “for such service”. Reading Section 66 and Section 67 (1) (i) together and harmoniously, it seems clear to us that in the valuation of the taxable service, nothing more and nothing less than the consideration paid as quid pro quo for the service can be brought to charge. Sub-section (4) of Section 67 which enables the determination of the value of the taxable service “in such manner as may be prescribed” is expressly made subject to the provisions of sub-section (1). The thread which runs through Sections 66, 67 and Section 94, which empowers the Central Government to make rules for carrying out the provisions of Chapter V of the Act is manifest, in the sense that only the service actually provided by the service provider can be valued and assessed to service tax. We are, therefore, undoubtedly of the opinion that Rule 5 (1) of the Rules runs counter and is repugnant to Sections 66 and 67 of the Act and to that extent it is ultra vires. It purports to tax not what is due from the service provider under the charging Section, but it seeks to extract something more from him by including in the valuation of the taxable service the other expenditure and costs which are incurred by the service provider “in the course of providing taxable service”. What is brought to charge under the relevant Sections is only the consideration for the taxable service. By including the expenditure and costs, Rule 5(1) goes far beyond the charging provisions and cannot be upheld. It is no answer to say that under sub-section (4) of Section 94 of the Act, every rule framed by the Central Government shall be laid before each House of Parliament and that the House has the power to modify the rule. As pointed out by the Supreme Court in Hukam Chand v. of India, AIR 1972 SC 2427: -

“The fact that the rules framed under the Act have to be laid before each House of Parliament would not confer validity on a rule if it is made not in conformity with Section 40 of the Act.”

Thus Section 94 (4) does not add any greater force to the Rules than what they ordinarily have as species of subordinate legislation.

19. For the above reasons we quash the impugned show-cause notice and allow the writ petition with no order as to costs.

The outcome of the judgment:

The court has quashed the Show Cause Notice issued to the petitioner. Therefore, all subsequent proceedings have become null and void.

The Court has also allowed the Writ Petition, this means all relief sought have been allowed

That is the rule 5 of the Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules, 2006 has been quashed in its entirety to the extent it includes the reimbursement of expenses in the value of taxable service for the purpose of charging service tax and the said rule has been declared unconstitutional and ultra vires Sections 66 and 67 of the Finance Act, 1994.
D. Conclusion:

As per general principals of commerce and accounting and also in view of  above referred decided cased it can be said that reimbursement of expenses incurred on behalf of  customer, client , or other service receiver  being principal, and service provider being agent and incurring expenses and claiming refund or re-imbursement cannot be included in the taxable value of service provided. In such case other persons have rendered services to the principal and not to the agent who has claimed reimbursement. 

E. Request to readers:

The readers are requested to go through the provisions of sections and Rules as applicable from time to time and to the case in hand which the reader is preparing. This is because there have been many changes, and one need to be careful about provision as stood at relevant time.

F.  Analysis from some old judgments on the issue

We find the following judgments on the issue of reimbursement of expenses.

Name of the reported case


Brief finding and decision

APCO AGENCIES Versus COMMISSIONER OF CUS. AND C. EX., CALICUT 2008 -TMI - 3859 - CESTAT, BENGLORE 13 STJ 173




Appellant Apco Agencies worked as a Clearing and Forwarding Agent and claimed and  received reimbursement of  expenses like  as rent, loading and unloading charges, postage and telegraph, printing and stationary, telephone expenses , sundry expenses etc. incurred by them for and on behalf of their principals - actual service charges received by the appellant is also mentioned in the contract - no justification was found in  levying service tax on reimbursements of actual expenses





E.V. Mathai & Sons V. CCE, Cochin, - 2003 (5) TMI 129 - CESTAT, BANGALORE


Transportation and other charges raised by way of a separate bill is not liable to be included in the value of taxable service.

Jayasree V. CCE, Mangalore - 2006 (12) TMI 51 - CESTAT, BANGALORE


Godown Rent and Staff Salary reimbursed is not to be included in taxable value.

Popular Cement Traders v. CCE, Cochin - 2006 (10) TMI 376 - CESTAT, BANGALORE


the Tribunal while granting stay recorded a prima facie finding that rental, telephone charges, handling charges, electricity charges, salary to employees etc. are to be borne by the principals and are only reimbursed to the assessee.

In Bhagyanagar Services v. CCE, Hyderabad - 2006 (6) TMI 16 - CESTAT, BANGALORE


transportation charges is not to be included in the value of taxable service

S & K ENTERPRISES Versus COMMR. OF CUS. & C. EX. (APPEALS), CALICUT 2008 -TMI - 3860 - CESTAT, BANGALORE


Expenses like loading, unloading charges & freight are not to be added to the value of service - appellants were under the bona fide belief that cost/expenses incurred by them are not includible in the consideration of the value of service rendered by them so penalty not imposable u/s 76 & 78

GAC SHIPPING (INDIA) PVT. LTD. Versus COMMR. OF C. EX. & CUS., 2008 -TMI - 3451 - CESTAT, BANGALORE


Service tax can be charged only on the amount received for the services rendered. Service Tax is not chargeable for the amounts charged as reimbursement. Documents which indicated the amounts to be refunded to their clients not viewed by Commissioner (A) properly – matter remanded for de novo consideration

KERALAM ENTERPRISES Versus COMMR. OF C. EX., CUS. & S.T 2008 -TMI - 3446 - CESTAT, BANGALORE Other important cases followed are:

(i) Bhagyanagar Services v. CCE, Hyderabad - 2006 (6) TMI 16 - CESTAT, BANGALORE

(ii) E.V.Mathai & Co. v. CCE [2003 (5) TMI 1 - CESTAT, BANGLORE

(iii) Marakadham Agencies v. CCE, Salem - 2006 (6) TMI 468 - CESTAT, CHENNAI

(iv) Alathur Agencies v. C.C.E.&C., Calicut - 2007 (3) TMI 64 - CESTAT, BANGALORE

(v) Popular Cement Traders v. CCE, Cochin - 2006 (10) TMI 376 - CESTAT, BANGALORE

(vi) T.N. Co-op Milk Producer's Federation Ltd. v. CCE, Chennai - 2005 (12) TMI 524 - CESTAT, CHENNAI

(vii) Sri Sastha Agencies Pvt. Ltd. v. AC,CE&C, Palnkkad - 2006 (11) TMI 193 - CESTAT, BANGALORE


Various receipts pointed out by the department like loading and unloading charges, freight charges, telephone charges, etc. cannot be added for payment of remuneration or commission while valuing taxable service for Service tax purposes. Tax has to be charged only on the amount of commission received by Clearing and Forwarding Agent.

MALABAR MANAGEMENT SERVICES PVT. LTD. Versus COMMR. OF S. T., 2008 -TMI - 3439 - CESTAT, CHENNAI


Service tax is not leviable on the payments received by appellant from ICICI Bank by way of reimbursements of expenses - reimbursements of actual expenses are not subjected to tax - differential tax raised by the Commissioner in respect of Business Auxiliary Service rendered to Bank is not sustainable.

JAYLAXMI ENTERPRISES Versus COMMISSIONER OF C. EX, MANGALORE 2008 -TMI - 2498 - CESTAT, BANGALORE


Valuation for Service tax - Appellant is not liable to pay service tax on the whole amount received from their principal and deduction would be available on the reimbursable expenses.

 

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