Service Tax on Truck Owners
Services provided by way of transportation of goods by road are in the negative list in clause (p) of Section 66D. However, such clause makes an exclusion of services provided by Goods Transport Agency. Thus, it can be inferred that services provided by Goods Transport Agency are taxable services. One important question flashes whether services provided by the truck owners by themselves are taxable. In this regard following points are noticeable :-
1. Negative list excludes the services by way of transportation of goods except by way of goods transport agency. Thus, it can be said that the intention of law is to tax only services of goods transport agency and not the services by way of transport of goods by road. Since truck owners are not GTA therefore, they are not liable to pay Service Tax.
2. In the budget speech of Mr Chidambaram given on 08/07/2004 (para 149 of speech)
‘…58 services have been brought under the net so far. I propose to add some more services this year. These are business exhibition services, airport services, services provided by goods transport booking agents, transport off goods by air, survey and exploration services, opinion poll services,……I may clarify that there is no intention to levy service tax on truck owners or truck operators.
Thus intention of Government is to tax only services provided by transport booking agents. This aspect should be kept in mind while interpreting various provisions in the act and rules. [adapted from Page no 480, Volume 1, 34th Edition of SS Gupta, “Service Tax-How to meet Your Obligations”]
3. In CCE v Kanaka Durra Agro Oil Products (P) Ltd  22 STT 435 (Bangalore CESTAT), it has been confirmed that there is no liability to pay service tax on the recipient of the services in cases of transportation undertaken by the individual truck operators/lorry owners. [adapted from Page no 481, Volume 1, 34th Edition of SS Gupta, “Service Tax-How to meet Your Obligations”]
Thus, looking to the explained provisions of law above and the ratios of judgements cited above it is inferred that the truck owners are not liable to pay service tax on the service of transport of goods when such services are provided by themselves and not in the capacity of GTA.
Kindly enlighten if anyone have different opinion or interpretation.
CA Akash Phophalia
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