In a move that has implications for infrastructure firms such as L&T, Reliance Infrastructure, Simplex Infrastructure and Soma Enterprises, the government has clarified that construction of roads is not a taxable service, though repair, management and maintenance of roads will attract service tax.
A Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) circular has cleared the air on taxation of construction, repair, maintenance and management of roads.
The circular comes after CBEC, a body under finance ministry that administers indirect taxes, received several representations from the industry highlighting divergence in practices followed by service tax department officials. Service tax is levied at the rate of 10%.
Commercial or industrial construction services specifically excludes construction or repairs of roads from the ambit of service tax. But, management, maintenance or repair provided under a contract or an agreement in relation to properties, whether immovable or not, attracts service tax. There is no specific exemption under this service for maintenance or repair of roads.
“…these definitions lead to the conclusion that while construction of road is not a taxable service, management, maintenance or repair of roads are in the nature of taxable services, attracting service tax,” the circular said.
The board has also clarified which type of activities would constitute construction and maintenance or repair.
While resurfacing, renovation, re-laying, filling of potholes and strengthening would be treated as repair and maintenance service, laying of new roads, widening of narrow roads to broader roads and changing of road surface would be treated as construction of roads.