• Mar
  • 04
  • 2013

Service tax on Transportation of Food Stuff – Critical reasoning of Notification no. 03/2013 ST dated 01.03.2013

Posted In Service Tax | | 15 Comments » Print Friendly and PDF

CA Pradeep Jain, CA Preeti Parihar, CA Shubham Sancheti

Introduction:-

In previous budget, service tax law was shifted to negative list regime. Mega exemption notification no. 25/2012 ST dated 20.6.2012 was issued to prescribe the list of exempted services. In the current year budget, nominal changes have been done in this list. One such change has been done in the serial no. 21 of this notification which exempts certain services provided by a Goods transport agency. This article has tried to look into the implications of this amendment.

Previous Provisions:

As per the previous provision as contained in serial no. 21 of mega exemption notification, the transport of following goods by Goods transport agency was exempted:-

(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;

Amended Provision:

Union budget, 2013 has issued Notification no. 03/2013-ST dated 1.3.2013 to amend the above notification. The amended provision under serial no. 21 reads as follows:-

21. Services provided by a goods transport agency, by way of transport in a goods carriage of,-

(a) agricultural produce;

(b)    goods, where gross amount charged for the transportation of goods on a consignment transported in a single carriage does not exceed one thousand five hundred rupees;

(c)  goods, where gross amount charged for transportation of all such goods for a single consignee does not exceed rupees seven hundred fifty;

(d) foodstuff including flours, tea, coffee, jag gery, sugar, milk products, salt and edible oil, excluding alcoholic beverages;

(e)  chemical fertilizer and oilcakes;

(f) newspaper or magazines registered with the Registrar of Newspapers;

(g) relief materials meant for victims of natural or man-made disasters, calamities, accidents or mishap; or

(h) defense or military equipments;”;

These above services by GTA in relation to transportation of the specified goods shall be exempted.

Analysis of amendment:-

  • The new exemptions added to material listed in serial no. (e) to (h) viz, chemical fertilizers, newspaper-magazines, relief materials, defense equipments, etc. were already there in this notification if these products were transported through rail or vessel. Now, budget, 2013 has also extended the exemption if these materials are transported through road by a goods transport agency. This has been done to ensure the uniformity in exemption in case of same material whether it is transported by road, or by rail or by vessel.
  • The exemption contained in serial no. (b) and (c) as pertaining to the limit of Rs. 750/- and Rs. 1500/- are kept intact.
  • The agricultural produces have been added to this list. The term “agriculture produce” has been defined in section 65B of the Finance Act which reads as follows:-

(5) “agricultural produce” means any produce of agriculture on which either no further processing is done or such processing is done as is usually done by a cultivator or producer which does not alter its essential characteristics but makes it marketable for primary market;

Thus, as per above definition, any produce of agriculture on which minimum processing is done by cultivator which does not alter its essential characteristics but makes it marketable for the primary market.

  • In place of the previous entry consisting of “fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, food grains or pulses”, a new entry consisting of “foodstuff including flours, tea, coffee, jaggery, sugar, milk products, salt and edible oil, excluding alcoholic beverages” have been inserted. The fruits, vegetables, eggs as contained in previous entry will remain included in the term foodstuff. Food grains and pulses as stood previously under this entry will now be included in the term “agricultural produces”.

Some probable points of dispute:-

The new entry related to the foodstuffs is going to be the centre of dispute in this amendment. The foodstuffs include the “flours”. However, a question arises whether the flours that are not directly eatable like guar flour will also be included and exemption will be allowed? The answer lies in the analysis of the term “food stuff” which is defined as follows:-

  • As per Collinsdictionery.com“Any material, substance, etc, that can be used as food”
  • As per wordwebonline.com“consumer goods sold by a grocer” or “a substance that can be used or prepared for use as food.

Thus, as per above definitions, the food stuff is any item that can be used or prepared for use as food. The exemption includes the flours, thus any type of flour which can be prepared for use as food will be included herein. However, some of the interesting uses of the guar flour/ guar gum powder are that it is used in the processed cheese, in bakery, in soups, in noodles and also in preparation of beverages. On the other hand, it is also used for industrial purposes like in chemical industry, paper industry, cosmetics, etc. Similar is the case with salt. Besides a foodstuff, it is also used in the aluminium purification, caustic/chlorine manufacture, pottery production, soap and glycerine manufacture, etc. The divergent uses of the products are definite indicators of probable litigation as the department will deny the exemption by saying that it is not a foodstuff, rather it is used for industrial purpose. Also, it will not be possible to correlate the item always with its end use in order to claim the exemption. Thus, some sort of clarification is required on this aspect.

Further, there was no need of adding the tea, coffee and jaggery as these were already included in the definition of “agricultural produces”. This fact is already clarified in the education guide dated 20.6.2012. These clarifications say that plantation crops like rubber, tea or coffee will be covered in the definition of agricultural produce. Further as per explanation given in para 4.4.7 of education guide, cereals, pulses, copra and jaggery will also be covered in the definition of agricultural produce. However, jaggery, tea and coffee have been covered in the new entry of food stuff.

While parting:-

Despite the ambiguities referred hereabove, the additions made in the list of goods to be transported by GTA will always be appreciated. There was discrimination previously in respect of the same goods when transported by rail/vessel and when the same are transported by road. It is good on part of government who has taken steps to bridge this gap by amending the mega exemption notification.


15 Responses to “Service tax on Transportation of Food Stuff – Critical reasoning of Notification no. 03/2013 ST dated 01.03.2013”

  1. Akshay says:

    Sir,
    Will you confirm me these items are exempted or not
    jeera/ Dhania/sauff/ Badaaan/ baddam/ kaju/ pista/ jawatrri/ clove/ jarri-butti,Ilachi,dates/ etc.

  2. Pravesh says:

    Dear All,
    My question is whether foodstuff includes “COOKED FOOD” or not? whether service tax is applicable on Transportation of “Cooked Food or not”

    Thanks

  3. SUNIL PURI says:

    The definition of Foodstuff in itself is ambiguous and needs to be elaborated and confirmed by someone who is an authority on the matter. Though we respect the views of everyone however it is also further requested to provide valuable guidance on the matter raised earlier as below :

    We are transporting Sauces, Jams, Pickles, Cookies etc. Are these items covered in the definition of “Foodstuffs” and thereby exempt under the new Service Tax Negative list. Please confirm at the earliest.

    We will be thankful for an immediate reply on the matter.

  4. Bajrang says:

    Sauces jams pickes will not be coverd in food stuff if u will cover this item also then every thing which can be consumed by human being will be covered in food stuff
    Here the intention of law is to reduce the burden of tax on primary food stuff like flour, rice, sugar etc
    Sauces, piecles etc are luxury and secondary food

    If u bring tomato to prepare sauces then service tax on transportation of tomato is exempt
    But sauses is not exempt

  5. Bajrang says:

    Whether cattle food such as maize, guar , mung chunni etc is exempted

  6. Vinod Aggarwal says:

    Food stuff means processed and unprocessed Direct or indirect u can eat. Like flour,

  7. Animesh says:

    Whether cattle feed will include agriculture produce?

  8. Yatin says:

    List of items of Food grains masala dry fruitson which service tax applicable by way of transportation.

  9. vishal bosamiya says:

    does spices like chilly, turmeric etc fall under Agriculture produce ? As we purchase these spices and grind them and sell them. so raw spices which i purchase does do they fall under agriculture produce?

    thanx in advance

  10. Ramesh Kumar Jagnani says:

    Please let me know if transportation of “Bread & Bakery Products”, which falls under “Foodstuffs” category, is liable or not to service tax?

  11. Munish Punia says:

    We are using sulfuric acid and zinc as raw material for the production of chemical fertilizers.
    My question is whether transport service provided by GTA for bringing raw material to factory place is exempted from service tax.

  12. manjeev aggarwal says:

    Please let me know if transportation of butter which falls under milk product category is also liable to service tax.

  13. CA Manish Agarwal says:

    hi Mr. Puri,
    Yes these products are covered under food stuff Fermented vegetable (pickels etc) and souces are also covered under food stuff for the purpose of service tax. as the defination of food stuff is inclusive defination which includes all the food and food products.“Food” means any substance, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, which is intended for human consumption

  14. Sunil Puri says:

    We are transporting Sauces, Jams, Pickles, Cookies etc. Are these items covered in the definition of “Foodstuffs” and thereby exempt under the new Service Tax Negative list. Please confirm at the earliest.

  15. Yatin Bhatt says:

    List of items on which service tax applicable by way of transportation

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