SERVICE TAX IS BEING IMPOSED ON THE FOLLOWING SPECIFIED SERVICES:
1) Services provided by air-conditioned restaurants having a license to serve alcoholic beverages in relation to serving of food and/or beverages.
2) Short-term accommodation provided by a hotel, inn, guesthouse, club or campsite, or any other similar establishment for a continuous period of less than three months
1. Services provided by a restaurant
1.1 Restaurants provide a number of services normally in combination with the meal and/or beverage for a consolidated charge. These services relate to the use of restaurant space and furniture, air-conditioning, well-trained waiters, linen, cutlery and crockery, music, live or otherwise, or a dance floor. The customer also has the benefit of personalized service by indicating his preference for certain ingredients e.g. salt, chilies, onion, garlic or oil. The extent and quality of services available in a restaurant is directly reflected in the margin charged over the direct costs. It is thus not uncommon to notice even packaged products being sold at prices far in excess of the MRP.
1.2 In certain restaurants the owners get into revenue-sharing arrangements with another person, who takes the responsibility of preparation of food, with his own materials and ingredients, while the owner takes responsibility for making the space available, its decoration, furniture, cutlery, crockery and music etc. The total bill, which is composite, is shared between the two parties in terms of the contract. Here the consideration for services provided by the restaurants is more clearly demarcated.
1.3 Another arrangement is whereby the restaurant separates a certain portion of the bill as service charge. This amount is meant to be shared amongst the staff who attend the customers. Though this amount is exclusively for the services it does not represent the full of value of all services rendered by the restaurants.
1.4 The new levy is directed at services provided by high-end restaurants that are airconditioned and have license to serve liquor. Such restaurants provide conditions and ambience in a manner that service provided may assume predominance over the food in many situations. It should not be confused with mere sale of food at any eating house, where such services are materially absent or so minimal that it will be difficult to establish that any service in any meaningful way is being provided.
1.5 It is not necessary that the facility of air-conditioning is available round the year. If the facility is available at any time during the financial year the conditions for the levy shall be met.
1.6 The levy is intended to be confined to the value of services contained in the composite contract and shall not cover either the meal portion in the composite contract or mere sale of food by way of pick-up or home delivery, as also goods sold at MRP. Finance Minister has announced in his budget speech 70% abatement on this service, which is, inter-alia, meant to separate such portion of the bill as relates to the deemed sale of meals and beverages. The relevant notification will be issued when the levy is operationalized after the enactment of the Finance Bill.
2. Short-term accommodation
2.1 Short term accommodation is provided by hotels, inns, guest houses, clubs and others and at camp-sites. This service is proposed to be taxed where the continuous period of stay is less than 3 months.10
2.2 Actual levy will be restricted to accommodation with declared tariff of Rs 1,000 per day or higher by an exemption notification. Once this requirement is met, tax will be chargeable irrespective of the fact that actually the amount charged from a particular customer is less than Rs 1,000. The tax will also be charged on the gross amount paid or payable for the value of the service.
2.3 Finance Minister has announced 50% abatement from the value of service. Details of the exemption will be announced at the time when the levy is operationalized after the enactment of the Finance Bill.