Telecom faces a number of points below the current oblique tax regime and, therefore, the sector has high hopes from the proposed GST regime.
Touted as India most transformative tax reform in many years, the goods and companies Tax (GST) has the potential so as to add as many as 2 percentage points to the GDP, while additionally enhancing the benefit of doing enterprise. When implemented, GST is anticipated to usher in a harmonised nationwide market of goods and providers, and lead to a simplified, assessee-pleasant tax administration system. Nevertheless, there are sector-particular points arising from features of the model GST regulation which can be required to be addressed by the federal government before the introduction of the ultimate legislation.
Telecom is one of the fundamental and critical infrastructure companies and has a massive outreach to more than a billion subscribers throughout geographical boundaries. Telecom faces several issues underneath the present oblique tax regime and, subsequently, the sector has high hopes from the proposed GST regime. Nevertheless, the mannequin GST legislation does not appear to convey an finish to the issues being confronted by the telecom sector.
Compliance: Under the GST regime, states get the facility to levy tax on providers additionally and, subsequently, requiring a service supplier to take state-wise GST registration instead of a centralised service tax registration beneath the present regime. The a number of state-clever registration would tremendously improve efforts and cost of compliance for telecom corporations (telcos). In truth, telcos could be required to file at the very least three returns on a monthly foundation per registration (i.e. state-sensible registration) below GST, unlike single centralised registration on a pan-India basis and merely 2-three returns per year under the present oblique tax regime.
Exclusion of petroleum products: One other main impact on the telecom sector is on account of deferment of applicability of GST on petroleum products. The telecom sector has to maintain spherical the clock uninterrupted provide of companies, which necessitates the usage of energy generators. Provided that the applicability of GST on petroleum products has been deferred, the identical would proceed to draw central excise duties and states sale taxes. This may end in massive cascading impression on the telecom sector.
Non-alignment of circles with states: The telecom sector is regulated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and various licences required to supply telecom providers are granted by the Division of Telecommunications (DoT). Telcos are required to acquire circle-wise licences from DoT for offering some telecom companies akin to cellular telephony. Whereas for services like national lengthy distance (NLD) services and international long distance (ILD) providers, licences are obtained on a pan-India foundation. Circle-wise licences are not aligned with the geographical boundaries of states and one circle could cowl a number of states. As an illustration, the Delhi NCR circle covers the native areas served by Delhi, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida and Gurgaon telephone exchanges, i.e., covers Delhi and elements of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Presently, telcos maintain circle-wise accounting to account for circle-wise revenue for fee of licence charge. Whereas, under the GST regime, the accounting would be required to be maintained state-smart.
Further, there exist numerous disparities between telecom rules (governed by Trai) and GST provisions. As an illustration, in case of roaming recharges for prepaid mobile telecommunication providers, subscriber of 1 circle (i.e. house circle) buys recharge within the roaming circle. As per place of supply provisions below the model GST regulation, the place of supply would be the roaming circle. Whereas as per the regulatory requirement, such expenses are required to be accounted in the house circle. Also, as talked about earlier, certain circles comprise of a number of states (like Delhi NCR) and also sure cities of the same state fall below totally different circles (like Mumbai and Maharashtra and Goa). In such scenarios, certain intra-circle provides as per regulatory requirement can be thought of as inter-state supplies underneath GST and vice-versa. These disparities between telecom laws and GST provisions would lead to complexities in accounting and these complexities would additional enhance if GST charges across states vary.
Self-supplies comparable to intra-circle termination and intra-circle roaming companies for the same operator, especially in case of multi-state circles, might turn into taxable under GST. At the moment, telcos would not have any mechanism to track intra-circle termination and roaming provides. Thus, this is able to also increase complexities for telcos underneath the GST regime, including the valuation of such self-provides.
So, resulting from variance in regulatory necessities and GST provisions including non-alignment of circle areas, undertaking compliance and reconciliation could be large and complex task for telcos.
The above talked about issues and complexities would necessitate telcos to make huge technological adjustments in the IT and accounting programs to take care of state-clever accounting.
The model GST law supplied a specific place of supply for telecom providers; however, the same entails varied complexities.
In case of B2B supplies of leased circuit companies (NPLC, IPLC, etc) and fixed line providers (being the place the place the leased circuit/telecommunication line is installed), it can be troublesome to apportion the value of such companies the place lump-sum consideration is charged for multiple state places.
For prepayment services the place cost is made by way of recharge vouchers or e-high ups (aside from e-payment), place of supply is the situation the place prepayment is obtained or recharge vouchers are bought. Pay as you go vouchers, and so on, are sold by telcos by way of a distribution channel consisting of numerous distributors and retailers. Given the distribution chain concerned in the sale of recharge vouchers, the situation where prepayment is received for recharge vouchers may very well be totally different from the placement the place such recharge voucher is bought. As an illustration, the telco received R45 as a consideration (prepayment) at its head workplace in Delhi for a voucher having MRP R50 from a distributor situated in Noida. In this case, it isn’t clear how to determine the place of supply as prepayment is received in Delhi, however the voucher is offered to a distributor in Noida. Accordingly, this might result in ambiguity with regard to value of supply and tax liability for the distribution chain.
In view of the above complexities in willpower of place of supply of telecom services, it’s endorsed that the place of provide should be aligned to the final rule, i.e., the deal with of the service recipient as per records of the service supplier. Having stated that, the place of supply being the service recipient tackle would burden telcos to keeping their database up to date on an actual-time foundation.