Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Whether Sodexho meal vouchers promote sale of goods/services and are similar to credit/debit cards?

Sodexho pass service India Pvt. Ltd. vs. Commissioner of service Tax, Mumbai (TIOL - 1838 2013 CESTAT – MUM)

The Appellant is in the business of issuing meal/gifcoupon vouchers after entering into an agreemenwith affiliates such as restaurants, eating placesother establishments etcand issue such coupons to the customers, generally in corporate who in turn would distribute among its employees as fringe benefit. The Appellant received service charges from its affiliates as well as from customers whicthedepartment contended to levtaon and thus issued a show-cause notice. The department held a view that the assessee promoted the business of the affiliates inasmuch a user/employee had to purchase goods and services from one of the affiliates and cannot use these vouchers in any other establishments or for any other purposes and thus taxable under "Business Auxiliary Services". The assessee contended that their services were similar to debit/credit cards and therefore, such transactions were covered under "Business Support Service" and thus not-taxable prior to 01-05-2006. Further, they also contended that providing a list of affiliates would not amount to promotion or marketing of affiliates as it was merely a facilitating mechanism.

observing the definition of "Business Auxiliary Services" effective from 10-09-2004, the Hon. Tribunal also upholding penalty held that the service charges received from affiliates were taxable and rejected the contentions of the assessee that the same were similar to credit/debit cards.

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