Whether Membership Subscription Charges, which is an essential service for business promotion, will be eligible for CENVAT Credit? CESTAT explains

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal

Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal, Chennai: While taking into consideration various of kinds of charges and whether they would qualify to be eligible for CENVAT Credit, P. Dinesha (Judicial Member) held that Membership Subscription charges are essential for business promotion and hence eligible for refund claim.

In the present matter, the assessee was aggrieved with the orders passed by the Commissioner of Central Tax (Appeals-II): C.G.S.T. and Central Excise, leading to filing of the present appeal and the common issue to be decided was the denial of a refund claim under Rule 5 of the CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004 of the unutilized credit on the inputs used for providing output services.

Appellant submitted that the Adjudicating Authority had granted a substantial refund, but however, rejected a part of it, which order came to be upheld by the Commissioner (Appeals).

Analysis, Discussion and Decision

Coram noted that the following were the services against which the CENVAT Credit was rejected:

  • Cleaning Service
  • Plant Rental Charges
  • Freight Charges
  • Installation Charges
  • Pest Control Charges
  • Car parking charges, terrace charges, terrace and car-bike charges
  • Auditorium Charges
  • Event Management Charges
  • Purchase of air conditioning – Civil Work
  • Membership subscription

On analyzing, the Tribunal in view of decisions of this Tribunal, cleaning services essential for providing output services and hence the same would qualify as input service and hence eligible for refund.

Therefore, the denial of CENVAT Credit on this service is bad.

On Plant Rental Charges, the appellant claimed that the said service was akin to Gardening Services, but however, it appeared that the appellant did not file any details as to the nature of service.

However, it is seen that since services of renting of equipment’s for organizing events are allowed as valid input service, the same logic should apply here and accordingly, in principle, the denial of CENVAT Credit is held bad.

With regard to Freight Charges, the appellant claimed that the said charges were incurred on a day-to-day basis for carrying the inputs used for providing output services and the said charges were paid to the vendor for inward transportation.

Tribunal added that the definition of “input service” under Rule 2 (l) of CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004 and hence the denial by the lower authorities was bad.

Moving on to the Installation charges, no details were furnished hence it required to be re-adjudicated.

On Pest Control Charges, the assessee claimed that the said issue was akin to Cleaning Services, which was very much essential to keep the business premises safe and clean and hence, the denial was clearly uncalled for.

With respect to the Car Parking Charges., terrace charges, car-bike charges, Coram found that the said charges were an essential service provided to all the employees and used by them during the course of employment, therefore it formed as an essential service, hence denial of CENVAT Credit on the said charges was held to be bad.

Talking about the Auditorium charges, Bench found the said service also essential and since the training were provided for the employees of the appellant or business meetings were held, hence CENVAT Credit denial was not justified for this.

Moving on to the Event Management Charges, it was the case of the appellant that the above services were used for promoting the brand name of the company and the expenses relating to advertisements or sales promotions were specifically covered within the scope of the definition of “input service” under Rule 2 (l). Thus, CENVAT Credit denial was held to be bad.

Denial of CENVAT Credit for the purchase of air condition was also held to be bad.

Lastly, the Tribunal noted that regarding Membership Subscription, assessee submitted that being part of a multi-national company, the appellant is required to subscribe to various business magazines and register as a member with various business associations for promoting the appellant’s business; membership subscription charges were paid towards obtaining corporate membership subscription of American Chamber of Commerce in India, which are purely incurred for the purpose of the appellant’s business.

Hence, Coram remarked that business promotion was an essential for the survival of every company and the said membership only expands the reach, hence it is a way of marketing the brand, which was an essential service.

Therefore, charges incurred were eligible for CENVAT Credit as per the definition of “input service” under Rule 2 (l) of the CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004.

In view of the above discussion, appeal were partly allowed and partly remanded. [Trimble Information Technologies India (P) Ltd. v. Commr. Of GST and Central Excise, 2021 SCC OnLine CESTAT 204, decided on 12-4-2021]

Advocates before the tribunal:

Shri Joseph Prabakar, Advocate for the Appellant

Shri L. Nandakumar, Authorized Representative (A.R.) for the Respondent

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