BUDGET 2010: RENTING OF IMMOVABLE PROPERTY
The Budget 2010 has made the following important amendments relating to Renting of Immovable Property Service
- ‘Renting’ activity itself regarded as taxable service (Retrospectively amended from 1 June, 2007)
- Renting of vacant land for construction of building /temporary structure at later stage for furtherance of business or commerce regarded as taxable service.
This service was introduced in 2007 with a view to tax the commercial use of immovable property hired on rent. The tax on rent paid is available as input credit if the commercial activity involves provision of taxable service or manufacture of dutiable goods. However, the Hon’ble High court of Delhi in its order dated 18.04.2009 in the case of Home Solutions Retail India Ltd. & Others vs. UOI has struck down this levy by observing that the renting of immovable property for use in the course of furtherance of business or commerce does not involve any value addition and therefore, cannot be regarded as service. Apart from the revenue loss caused to the exchequer, the judgement has placed the landlords in a very precarious situation. In view of this judgement, the commercial tenants have stopped them reimbursing the tax element. However, the landlords are receiving regular demand notices from the department issued to protect government’s revenue for the interim period.
In order to clarify the legislative intent and also bring in certainty in tax liability the relevant definition of taxable service is being amended to clarify that the activity of renting of immovable property per se would also constitute a taxable service under the relevant clause. This amendment is being given retrospective effect from 01.06.2007.
Renting of vacant land
Under the definition of taxable service pertaining to renting of immovable property, the renting of vacant land used for agriculture, farming, forestry, animal husbandry, mining, education, sports, circus, entertainment and parking purposes, is excluded from the purview of service tax. Further, ‘vacant land’, whether or not having facilities clearly incidental to the use of such vacant land has also been excluded from the tax net.
It has been reported that in many states, the local industrial corporations or PSUs or even private organizations rent vacant land on a long term leases with an explicit understanding that lessee would construct factory or commercial building on that land. In such cases the ownership of the land is not transferred to the lessee and thus it is a service provided by the lessor to the lessee. The situation is similar to renting out a constructed structure for commercial purposes except that at the time of executing the lease agreement the land is in a vacant state and that later the lessee constructs commercial structure thereon after executing the lease deed. Such lease agreements escape service tax because of the exclusion mentioned above.
Suitable amendment in the definition of taxable service relating to renting to immovable property is being made so as to provide that tax would be charged on rent of a vacant land if there is an agreement or contract between the lessor and lessee that a construction on such land is to be undertaken for furtherance of business or commerce during the tenure of the lease.