Service rendered by an individual or institution for facilitating overseas payments without any element of service charge may not be liable to pay GST, a tax authority has held.
The Kerala Authority of Advance Ruling (AAR) has ruled that no GST is payable on payment of examination fee made on behalf of students as a pure agent without any element of service charge for such service, either from the students or the agency where the fee is being routed.
The order has wider ramifications as it would make several other facilitation services provided in various sectors tax free. But legal experts said that the exemption may be specific in nature as a service rendered by an education institute is for students.
The AAR order came on an application of Cigma Medical Coding Private Ltd, engaged in providing training for students in medical coding. The medical coding examination is conducted and certified by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) having its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, the US.
As per of its programme to facilitate students, Cigma helped some of their students to pay the examination fees for the medical coding examination conducted by the AAPC by arranging an online facility/platform for making payment without collecting any service charge either from students or the AAPC. Students could also also pay their examination fee directly to the AAPC.
Cigma had applied to the AAR to get advance ruling on whether the work of facilitating students for payment of fees, without any element of service charge, qualified as a taxable service.
The Kerala AAR ruled that payment of fees to AAPC by Cigma on behalf of students enrolled in its training programme will not need to pay GST, subject to fulfillment of the conditions stipulated under Rule 33 of CGST Rules 2017 with regards to operation of pure agent.
Further, such service offered to students not enrolled with Cigma programme without any element of service charge from either parties would not qualify for GST.