1. The time period for issuance of invoice is being increased to 30 days ordinarily and 45 days for banks and financial institutions (to reconcile with the business practice of issuing monthly statement). These changes are being provided in Rule 4A of Service Tax Rules and the time period so defined is being incorporated in POT Rules.
2. In case of export of services and eight specified services provided by individuals or firms, the point of taxation is the date of payment. The special dispensation is being shifted from the POT Rules to the Service Tax Rules. This would help provide certainty in the application of rate of tax while retaining the benefit of payment of tax until payment is received.
3. In case of exporters, the period extended by the Reserve Bank of India is now explicitly included in the period for which the tax is allowed to be deferred.
4. The benefit available to individuals and firms to determine POT on the basis of date of payment for eight specified services is being extended to all services in a slightly modified form. The facility will be now available to individuals and partnership firms (including limited liability partnership) up to a turnover of Rs 50 lakh in a financial year provided the taxable turnover did not exceed this limit in the previous financial year. For computing the above limits, the turnover of the whole entity is required to be summed up and not any single registration.
5. The definition of continuous supply of service is being amended to capture the concept in a more wholesome manner, namely the recurrent nature of services and the obligation for payment periodically or from time-to-time.
6. Since the essence of the rule in case of continuous supply of service is the same as the main Rule, the separate rule for continuous supply of service [Rule 6] is 11being merged with the main rule. Moreover the provisions of rules 4 and 5 relating to changes in rates or application of tax on new services would also be applicable to continuous supply of services;
7. In case of a new levy, no tax is chargeable on services where payment has been received and invoice issued within a period of 14 days. To provide certainty, clause (b) is being amended to specify that invoice should be issued within 14 days of the date of the new levy.
8. The “date of payment” could be a subject of litigation particularly when effective rate changes. A new rule has been created: Rule 2A, keeping in view the impending change in rate effective April 1, 2012 and introduction of Negative List at a later date. In normal circumstances this date shall be the earlier of the dates of entry into books of accounts or actual credit in the bank account (when applicable).
However, when there is change in effective rate of tax or a new levy between the said two dates, the date of payment shall be the date of actual credit in the bank account, if the amount is credited through a banking instrument more than four working daysafter the date of such change.
9. This will have no impact where invoice is the basis for point of taxation. Thus business may be advised to take steps to deposit all advances received up to March 31, 2012 in their bank accounts suitably. Any delay in this regard will lead to charging tax at higher rate.
10. As a measure of added facilitation, an option has been provided to determine the point of taxation in respect of small advances up to Rs 1000, in excess of the amount indicated in the invoice, on the basis of invoice or completion of service rather than payment. Such provision is expected to address the accounting problems faced by service providers in telecommunications, credit card businesses who regularly receive minor excess payments from their customers.
11. A residual rule has been made by way of best judgement to handle situations where the tax-payer is unable to furnish one or more of the details needed i.e. date of payment or date of invoice or both to determine POT.
12. And lastly, the small scale exemption has also been amended recognizing that the first clearances up to Rs 10 lakhs will be in terms of invoices and not mere payments received.
13. These changes come into effect from April 1, 2012.