prpri GST on services by Corporate Office to unit in other states as well GST on services by Corporate Office to unit in other states as well

The big question is whether activities performed by the employees at the corporate office in the course of or in relation to employment such as accounting, other administrative and IT system maintenance for the units located in the other states as well i.e. distinct persons as per Section 25(4) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) shall be treated as supply as per Entry 2 of Schedule I of the CGST Act or it shall not be treated as supply of services as per Entry 1 of Schedule III of the CGST Act?”.

In Re M/S Columbia Asia Hospitals Private Limited (GST AAR Karnataka) it was held that :

“The activities performed by the employees at the corporate office in the course of or in relation to employment such as accounting, other administrative and IT system maintenance for the units located in the other states as well i.e. distinct persons as per Section 25(4) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) shall be treated as supply as per Entry 2 of Schedule I of the CGST Act, 2017.

Brief Details about the AAR :

M/s Columbia Asia Hospitals Private Limited, (called as the ‘Applicant’ hereinafter), having its registered office at The Icon, 2nd Floor, No.8, 80 feet Road, HAL III Stage, Indiranagar, Bengaluru 560075 had filed an application for Advance Ruling under Section 97 of CGST Act, 2017, KGST Act, 2017 read with Rule 104 of CGST Rules 2017 85 KGST Rules 2017, in form GST ARA-01 discharging the fee of Rs.5,000-00 each under the CGST Act and the KGST Act.

1. The Applicant is a private limited company engaged in providing health care services categorizing them as In-patient (IP) and Out-patient (OP) services. The Company is also engaged in supply of medicines (pharmacy) to in-patients and out-patients. It also operates Restaurant / Canteen services in its premises which is used for supplying food and other eatable items to its patients and their attendants.

2. The question on which advance ruling is sought is as follows:

“Whether the activities performed by the employees at the corporate office in the course of or in relation to employment such as accounting, other administrative and IT system maintenance for the units located in the other states as well i.e. distinct persons as per Section 25(4) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) shall be treated as supply as per Entry 2 of Schedule I of the CGST Act or it shall not be treated as supply of services as per Entry 1 of Schedule III of the CGST Act?”.

The applicant furnishes some facts relevant to the stated activity:

a. The applicant states that he is a private limited company and is an international heathcare group operating a chain of modern hospitals across Asia. The Company is currently operating across six different states having eleven hospitals out of which six units are in the state of Karnataka. The Hospitals owned by the applicant are engaged in providing secondary and tertiary Healthcare services which in turn categorises as In-patient (IP) and Out-patient (OP) services.

b. The applicant has its India Management Office (“IMO”) i.e Corporate Office in Karnataka and some of the activities for all the units with respect to accounting, administration and maintenance of IT system are carried out by the employees from IMO which forms part of the registered person in Karnataka. Further, GST paid on certain expenses such as rent paid on immovable property and other equipments, travel expenses, consultancy services, communication expenses etc., which are incurred towards services used by the IMO are availed by the registered person in the state of Karnataka and subsequently, registered person in Karnataka is discharging IGST on the expenses proportionately attributable to the other units located outside the State of Karnataka treating the same as taxable supplies in this regard.

c. The applicant provides an example on how the services are apportioned and the same reads as under

  • If the Company has received rental services amount to Rs.1,00,000 plus GST of Rs.18,000, which are towards management office. The Company in Bangalore would avail the input tax credit to the extent of Rs.18,000/- and subsequently the Company, Bangalore would raise invoices on other units for an amount determined on the basis of turnover of respective unit to the total turnover of all the units in the said tax period and the applicable GST is discharged on the same.
  • Assuming the turnover of Company, Kolkata is Rs.10,00,000 and the total turnover of all units is Rs.1 Crore, then the value of the invoice is determined as follows:

Rental Services received at IMO * Turnover of Pune ÷ Total turnover of all Units

Therefore, Company in Bangalore would raise an invoice for Rs.10,000-00 on the Company in Kolkata and discharge the applicable GST on this amount.

d. However, the applicant states, with respect to employee cost there are no invoices raised by the management office treating the same as activities carried out by employees in the course of or in relation to his employment which does not amount to supply of services.

e. With these facts, the applicant has sought an advance ruling on the matters already enumerated above

ARGUMENTS BY APPELLANT :

1. The applicant states that as per Section 7(1)(c) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, the term “Supply” includes “the activities specified in Schedule I, made or agreed to be made with or without a consideration”. Further, as per Section 7(2) of the
CGST Act, “activities or transactions specified in Schedule III shall be treated neither as a supply of goods nor a supply of services”. As per Entry 2 of Schedule I of the CGST Act, “Supply of goods or services or both between related persons or between distinct persons as specified in section 25, when made in the course or furtherance of business” shall be treated as a supply even if it is made without consideration. He stated, however, as per Entry 1 of Schedule III of the CGST Act, “Services by an employee to the employer in the course of or in relation to his employment” shall not be treated as a supply of services.

2. The applicant explained that the activities carried out by employees from its India Management Office (IMO) for accounting and other administrative functions with respect to other units amount to supply of services between distinct persons without consideration as per Entry 1 of Schedule I. However, the same shall not be treated as supply of services by virtue of specific relaxation provided in Entry 1 of Schedule III which states that “services by an employee to the employer in course of or in relation to his employment shall be neither treated as a supply of goods not a supply of services.”

3. The word employee cannot be restricted to employment with the registered person as per Section 2(94) of the CGST Act merely on account of the location from where he renders his employment services. The employment relationship exists between the employee and employer, i.e. legal entity as a whole and not confined to the location of registered person from where the said employee renders services. When an employee renders any services to other registered persons, i.e. distinct persons of the same legal entity, the nature of activities still assumes the character of services by an employee to the employer in the course of or in relation to his employment as he is an employee for the legal entity as a whole and not for any one registered person. Hence, the services rendered by employees towards accounting and other administrative functions pertaining to other units still retains the character of services by an employee to the employer in the course of or in relation to his employment and hence shall not be treated as supply of services as per Entry 1 to Schedule III. Therefore, GST shall not be applicable on the said activities as the same is not a supply of services.

applicant also states that certain services such as rent paid on immovable property, telephone services and business consultancy availed at the India Management Office (IMO) but are used for the entity as a whole and hence, the same are attributable to all
the registered persons located in other states as well. Allocation of such expenses to other registered units by IMO is only for the purpose of determining the profit of each cost centre i.e. registered unit. Whether such allocation of expenditure to other registered units tantamount to supply of services between related or distinct persons as per Entry 2 to Schedule I to CGST Act and accordingly liable to tax is the question asked.

RULING

The activities performed by the employees at the corporate office in the course of or in relation to employment such as accounting, other administrative and IT system maintenance for the units located in the other states as well i.e. distinct persons as per Section 25(4) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) shall be treated as supply as per Entry 2 of Schedule I of the CGST Act.

“Services by an employee to the employer in the course of or in relation to his employment.”

The services provided to the employer, i.e. the corporate office by the persons employed by the corporate office are in the nature of the employee-employer relationship. Further, since the corporate office and the units are distinct persons under the Act, there is no such relationship between the employees of one distinct entity with another distinct entity, at least as per the Goods and Service Tax Acts, even if they are belonging to the same legal entity.

Further, the activities made between the related persons are treated as supplies and the valuation includes all costs, the employee cost also needs to be taken into consideration at the time of valuation of goods or services provided by one distinct entity to the other distinct entities.

OUTCOME :

The outcome of this is harrowing and very difficult for trade to digest. GST was meant to be easy for trade by ensuring freedom from other indirect taxes and also freedom from the burden of several compliances but treating own company employees as providing service to the units has brought in a new compliance burden.

a) For companies which have taxable output supplies from its units the applicability of this AAR would mean additional compliance but no extra cost to company as the credit can be passed on to the respective registrations ensuring a revenue neutral situation.

b) But for companies like educational institutions, hospitals etc i.e. who have exempt output supply would be an additional cost for them as credit is not available.

c) Working Capital Blockage would also be a problem for few.

be a big exercise for companies in valuing the % of the work done by the corporate employees and then allocation of the same to the several units.

e) The other point is to capture all these transactions in GST returns , the ERP has to be modified and appropriate invoice needs to be raised leading to additional cost.

e) The rate of GST would be 18% on such type of supplies.

f) What according to me they failed to capture is the employee of a XYZ company is not for a particular state but he/she is an employee of the company and he/she would quite normally serve the company for which the benefits would flow to other states.

Cross Charge was applicable for entity wise transactions, ISD mechanism is applicable for transfer of credits of common expenses and now we have to transfer the credit under same PAN entity by billing to other registrations for common services provided by corporate employees. 🙂

The AAR has interpreted the phrase “employer-employee” relationship in a very narrow manner by restricting it to the relationship of the employee with the CO/head office and not extending it to the branches.

As per the GST law, an advance ruling is binding only on the applicant and not on any other assessee. However, an advance ruling does have persuasive value and can serve as a guide to understand the view of the authorities and likely interpretations to a particular question of law.

Commenting on the ruling, Anita Rastogi, Indirect Tax Partner at PwC, said this ruling has very wide ramifications. It is applicable to even those enterprises that are not required to pay GST on their core activities.

“This tax would become a cost as anyway such organisations do not have any output tax. The Centre should immediately address it by issuing appropriate notification,” said Rastogi.

Bimal Jain, Chairman, Indirect Tax Committee with the PHD Chamber of Commerce, said a clarification on inter-company supply of services has to be made immediately.

Else, it will create chaos in multi-State operational companies, he observed. “The situation will worsen if the recipient unit is engaged in the supply of exempted goods or services, as it will not be entitled to avail credit of GST charged by the supplier unit of the company,” he said.

Author Bio

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Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Member Since: 28 Feb 2018 | Total Posts: 4
Experienced Tax professional with proven expertise in Indirect tax, Direct Taxes, Transfer Pricing and International Tax litigations and compliances. Member of Direct and Indirect Tax Committee in Bengal Chamber of Commerce, Member of Indirect Tax Expert Committee in Bangalore Chamber of Commerce, View Full Profile

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