CBEC’s 31 FAQs on GST in Government Services Sector

The CBEC has compiled and released a booklet containing 31 FAQs on GST in Government Services Sector, for assistance and guidance of the stakeholders in getting acquainted with the GST Law, as under:

CBIC’s Booklet on GST FAQs (Government Services Sector)

Question 1: Are all services provided by the Government or local authority exempted from payment of tax? 

Answer: 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 services 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.

Question 2: Are Government or local authority or governmental authority liable to pay tax? 

Answer: 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.

Question 3: What is the meaning of ‘Government’ ? 

Answer: As per section 2(53) of the CGST Act, 2017, ‘Government’ means the Central Government. As per clause (23) of section 3 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 the ‘Government’ includes both the Central Government and any State Government. As per clause (8) of section 3 of the said Act, the ‘Central Government’, in relation to anything done or to be done after the commencement of the Constitution, means the President. As per Article 53 of the Constitution, the executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either directly or indirectly through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution. Further, in terms of Article 77 of the Constitution, all executive actions of the Government of India shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the President. Therefore, the Central Government means the President and the officers subordinate to him while exercising the executive powers of the Union vested in the President and in the name of the President. Similarly, as per clause (60) of section 3 of the General Clauses Act,1897, the ‘State Government’, as respects anything done after the commencement of the Constitution, shall be in a State the Governor, and in an Union Territory the Central Government. As per Article 154 of the Constitution, the executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor and shall be exercised by him either directly or indirectly through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution. Further, as per article 166 of the Constitution, all executive actions of the Government of State shall be expressed to be taken in the name of Governor. Therefore, State Government means the Governor or the officers subordinate to him who exercise the executive powers of the State vested in the Governor and in the name of the Governor.

Question 4: Who is a local authority? 

Answer: Local authority is defined in clause (69) of section 2 of the CGST Act, 2017 and means the following:

i) a “Panchayat” as defined in clause (d) of article 243 of the Constitution;

ii) a “Municipality” as defined in clause (e) of article 243P of the Constitution;

iii) a Municipal Committee, a ZillaParishad, a District Board, and any other authority legally entitled to, or entrusted by the Central Government or any State Government with the control or management of a municipal or local fund;

iv) a Cantonment Board as defined in section 3 of the Cantonments Act, 2006;

v) a Regional Council or a District Council constituted under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution;

vi) a Development Board constituted under article 371 of the Constitution; or

vii) a Regional Council constituted under article 371A of the Constitution.

Question 5: Are all local bodies constituted by a State or Central Law regarded as local authorities for the purposes of the GST Acts? 

Answer: No. The definition of ‘local authority’ is very specific and means only those bodies which are mentioned as ‘local authorities’ in clause (69) of section 2 of the CGST Act, 2017. It would not include other bodies which are merely described as a ‘local body’ by virtue of a local law.

For example, State Governments have setup local developmental authorities to undertake developmental works like infrastructure, housing, residential & commercial development, construction of houses, etc. The Governments setup these authorities under the Town and Planning Act. Examples of such developmental authorities are Delhi Development Authority, Ahmedabad Development Authority, Bangalore Development Authority, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority, etc. Such developmental authorities formed under the Town and Planning Act are not qualified as local authorities for the purposes of the GST Acts.

Question 6: Would a statutory body, corporation or an authority constituted under an Act passed by the Parliament or any of the State Legislatures be regarded as ‘Government’ or “local authority” for the purposes of the GST Acts? 

Answer: A statutory body, corporation or an authority created by the Parliament or a State Legislature is neither ‘Government’ nor a ‘local authority’. Such statutory bodies, corporations or authorities are normally created by the Parliament or a State Legislature in exercise of the powers conferred under article 53(3)(b) and article 154(2)(b) of the Constitution respectively.

It is a settled position of law (Agarwal Vs. Hindustan Steel AIR 1970 Supreme Court 1150) that the manpower of such statutory authorities or bodies do not become officers subordinate to the President under article 53(1) of the Constitution and similarly to the Governor under article 154(1). Such a statutory body, corporation or an authority as a juridical entity is separate from the State and cannot be regarded as the Central or a State Government and also do not fall in the definition of ‘local authority’. Thus, regulatory bodies and other autonomous entities would not be regarded as the government or local authorities for the purposes of the GST Acts.

Question 7: Would services provided by one department of the Government to another Department of the Government be taxable? 

Answer: 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.

Question 8: What are the transport services provided by the Government or local authorities exempt from tax? 

Answer: Transport services provided by the Government to passengers by — (i) railways in a class other than— (a) first class; or (b) an air-conditioned coach; (ii) metro, monorail or tramway; (iii) inland waterways; (iv) public transport, other than predominantly for tourism purpose, in a vessel between places located in India; and (v) metered cabs or auto rickshaws (including E-rickshaws) are exempt from tax.

Question 9: 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’?

Answer: 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.

Question 10: Are various regulatory bodies formed by the Government covered under the definition of ‘Government’?

Answer: No. A regulatory body, also called regulatory agency, is a public authority or a governmental body which exercises functions assigned to them in a regulatory or supervisory capacity. These bodies do not fall under the definition of Government.

Examples of regulatory bodies are – Competition Commission of India, Press Council of India, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Forward Market Commission, Inland Water Supply Authority of India, Central Pollution Control Board, Securities and Exchange Board of India. [….contd… please refer above attachment]

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