Applicability of GST on penal charges

By Yutika Lohia (yutika@vinodkothari.com)

Introduction

The Goods & Services Tax (GST) has been the biggest tax reform in India founded on the notion of ‘one nation, one market, one tax’. It has and will further affect the entire economy including core industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, finance, service, infrastructure etc. The tax reform has been touted to create a significant positive impact on the economy in the long run. Unfortunately however, GST has not been exception to the fact that any big transition faces short term pains. The GST council has been receiving numerous queries and doubts from the myriad industries and trading associations regarding its applicability and nuances on the supply of various goods and services. One such concern had been on the issue of its applicability on additional/penal interest.

Recently the Council came up with a circular on “Clarification regarding applicability of GST on additional / penal interest” on 28th June, 2019[1] to address the issue.

The word “penal”

Black’s law dictionary defines penalty as ‘punishment imposed by statute as a consequence of the commission of a certain specified offense.” Subsequently as such the word “penal” is something relating to or containing a penalty. To put it in perspective, any default in payment of a loan transaction or in the supply of goods or services is liable for a penalty, which may be fixed or variable and thus may be in the name of additional interest or penalty interest, or overdue interest.

In a financial transaction, when there is a delay in the payment of EMI by the customer/borrower, the lender collects penal /default interest as additional interest for the period of delay, determined in days, months or years as per the agreed terms between the two.

Chargeability of GST

Penal charge is levied when there is delayed payment in a money-to-money transaction or when there is a supply of goods or services.

First let us understand whether the penal interest will be included in the value of supply.

As per section 15(2)(d) of the CGST Act, value of supply includes “interest or late fee or penalty for delayed payment of any consideration for any supply.”

Therefore, any interest or penalty paid for delayed payment in the supply of goods or service or a loan transaction shall be included in the value of supply i.e. the consideration amount.

Further, penal charges will not be covered under Schedule II- Activities to be treated as a supply of goods or services in clause 5(e), where supply of services include “agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act”

The expression “to tolerate an act” used in the above clause, should be understood to cover instances where the consideration is being charged by one person in order to allow another person to undertake any particular activity. Therefore it is very clear that at the very inception of the transaction, the intention of one party is to undertake an activity and the other party shall allow the same without any deterrent. To say, the contract is entered to allow the other person to carry out an activity, and not as a penalty or limit the person for carrying out such act in future.

Furthermore, the word “obligation” used in the clause 5(e) of Schedule II where the service recipient requests the service provider to tolerate an act/situation and the service provider obliges to tolerate for a consideration, then such a contractual relationship shall be covered in the above mentioned clause. Therefore it can be said that there is a consensus ad idem between the contracting parties.

Contrary to the above, penal interest/charges are collected only when an event occurs i.e. when there is a default in a payment of a loan transaction or supply of goods/services. The intention of the parties entering into a contract is either to avail the services in way of loan or supply of goods. Penal charges are to be paid if there is a breach in the contract and therefore it does not mean that the parties have entered into a contract for the penal interest.

Therefore penal charges does not fall under the deemed supply list given in Schedule II of the CGST Act.

As penal interest satisfies the definition of “interest” given in the notification, penal interest charged by parties who enter into a contract of giving loans will be covered under serial no. 27 of the notification dated 28th June, 2017.

Ergo, penal charges levied by the lender in a money to money transaction will have no GST implications.

Services by way of extending deposits, loans or advances in so far as the consideration is represented by way of interest or discount is an exempt service and penal charges levied by the vendor on delayed payment in case of supply of goods and services shall be under the purview of GST.

Various clarifications by the GST Council on additional/ penal interest taxability

The GST department’s explanations regarding the applicability of GST of additional / penal interest are listed below:

1.      FAQs on financial sector

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) came up with a frequently asked questions document (FAQs documents) on financial sector[2] where taxability of additional interest in GST was discussed in serial no 45 of the document.

Any additional interest charged on default in payment of instalment in respect of any supply which is subject to GST, will be included in the value of supply and therefore will be liable to GST.

2.      Notification No. 12/2017-Central Tax (Rate) dated 28th June 2017[3]

The department exempts services by way of extending deposits, loans or advances in so far that the consideration is represented by way of interest or discount (other than interest involved in credit card services).

Also the notification defines the word “interest” which means “interest payable in any manner in respect of any moneys borrowed or debt incurred (including a deposit, claim or other similar right or obligation) but does not include any service fee or other charge in respect of the moneys borrowed or debt incurred or in respect of any credit facility which has not been utilised.”

Further there was a ruling passed by the Advance Ruling Authority on the applicability of GST on penal interest when there is a delayed in repayment of loan.

3.      The case of Bajaj Finance Limited

In case of Bajaj Finance Limited [4](BFL), an advance ruling was passed on 6th August 2018, where it was concluded that penal charges collected by the BFL shall attract GST.

Here it was said that in case of default of payment of EMI by the customer, the applicant tolerated such an act of default or a situation and the defaulting party i.e. the customer was required to compensate the applicant by way of payment of extra amounts in addition to principal and interest. Also, the additional interest is not in the nature of interest but penal charges.

Therefore, the charges levied for any default in repayment of loan will be covered under clause 5(e) of Schedule II of the CGST Act. Also, the same is not an exempt service and will be liable to tax under GST.

4.      Circular no 102/21/2019-GST dated 28th June 2019

Given the numerous queries, the department finally released clarification on the matter. Penal interest charged on delayed payment for supply of goods and services will be included in the value of supply and will stand liable for GST. Whereas penal interest charged on the delayed payment of loan repayment will be exempt under GST.

The clarification given under the notification is discussed at length below.

The various clarifications by the GST Council on additional/ penal interest taxability is represented below in a tabular form:

 

 

FAQs on financial sector

 

 

Notification No. 12/2017-Central Tax (Rate) dated 28th June 2017

 

Case of Bajaj Finance Limited

 

Circular no 102/21/2019-GST dated 28th June 2019

 

Additional interest in case of default payment of instalment in respect of supply, which is subject to GST will be included in the value of supply and therefore liable to GST Consideration by way of interest or discount on deposits loans and advances are considered as exempt service. Charges levied for any default in repayment of loan will be liable to tax under GST.

Penal interest charged on delayed payment for supply of goods and services will be included in the value of supply and will stand liable for GST. Whereas penal interest charged on the delayed payment of loan repayment will be exempt under GST

 

Implication of GST on penal charges

Accordingly, there are different GST implications, which are discussed by way of examples. Financing to a borrower may be done in the following ways:

  • Situation 1: ABC Co (lender/shopkeeper) sells a car to Mr A (borrower) where the selling price of the car is ₹6,00,000. However ABC Co gives Mr A an option to pay the selling price of the car in 24 months (24 instalments) i.e. ₹ 26,250 (Repayment of principal ₹ 25000 + Interest @5% i.e. ₹ 1250). The instalment shall be paid every 10th of the month, and any delay on such payment shall be liable for a penal interest of ₹ 500 per day for delay in payment.

Here the transaction between ABC Co and Mr A is that of supply of taxable goods and not a money to money transaction. The shopkeeper has broken down the payment into tranches referred to as the EMI facility. The said EMI includes interest component as well which is subjected to GST. Also a penal interest is charged on the delayed payment. Accordingly, the interest and penal charges paid on the delayed payments shall be included in the value of supply and as a consequence, it will be under the ambit of GST.

Also this situation will not be covered under clause 5(e) of the Schedule II of the CGST Act. The expression to tolerate an act cannot be said to include a situation wherein penal charges are imposed on the erring party for delayed or non-payment.

Since the above is not covered under serial no 27 of the notification[5], the same is not exempt and taxable under GST.

  • Situation 2: ABC Co sells a car to Mr. A where the selling price of the car is ₹6,00,000. Mr A has an option to avail a car loan at an interest of 12% per annum for purchasing the car from XYZ Co. The term of the loan from XYZ Co allows A, a period of 24 months to repay the loan and an additional /penal interest @1% per annum for every day of delay in payment.

Here the transaction between XYZ co and Mr. A is that of money to money transaction. The penal interest charged will be covered under serial no 27 of notification no 12/2017 Central Tax (Rate) dated the 28.06.2017 “services by way of (a) extending deposits, loans or advances in so far as the consideration is represented by way of interest or discount (other than interest involved in credit card services)”is exempted.

Accordingly, in this case, the “penal interest” charged thereon on transaction between XYZ Co and Mr. A would not be subject to GST. The value of supply by ABC Co to Mr. A would be ₹ 6,00,000 for the purpose of GST. Whereas there will no GST charged on the interest and additional/ penal interest charged by the XYZ Co (lender) as the same is considered as an exempt supply.

Therefore, the vendor has the following option to sell the car to the customer:

  • Provide a deferred payment facility by the vendor himself on account of purchase of the car, or
  • Provide a loan facility to purchase the asset through the vendor’s captive lending unit, or
  • Provide a loan facility to purchase the asset through any bank/NBFC

In all the three cases mentioned above, GST taxability will be different. In case the deferred payment facility is provided by the vendor and there is a delay in payment of EMI by the borrower, GST shall be charged on the additional interest due to such delay in payment. However, in case a loan facility has been provided by the vendor’s captive lending unit or by an independent bank or an NBFC, the additional interest charged on the delayed repayment will not be taxable under GST.

Conclusion

The circular by the government came up as a clarification in regard to GST implications on penal charges. This clarification brings ease to various NBFCs who were levying penal charges as per the agreement on the delayed payment of loan instalment. Also, the circular overrides the advance ruling in the case of Bajaj Finance Limited.

To summarise the above discussed concept:

  • Penal charges in case of delayed payment of instalment of supply of goods and services shall be included in the value of supply as per section 15(2) (d) of the CGST Act. The same shall be liable to tax under GST
  • Penal charges in case of delayed payment of instalment of a money to money transaction will be included in the value of supply as per section 15(2) (d) of the CGST Act. The same shall be exempt through serial no 27 of the notification No. 12/2017-Central Tax (Rate) dated 28th June 2017. Therefore penal charges in this case shall not be taxable under GST.

 

[1] http://www.cbic.gov.in/resources//htdocs-cbec/gst/circular-cgst-102.pdf;jsessionid=4085899A448EFF7FCF1762E53BC68D3F

[2][2] http://gstcouncil.gov.in/sites/default/files/faq/27122018-UPDATED_FAQs-ON-BANKING-INSURANCE-STOCK-BROKERS.pdf

[3] http://www.cbic.gov.in/resources//htdocs-cbec/gst/Notification12-CGST.pdf;jsessionid=3D2C63EDD8A1183AEB262F41985CB224

[4] https://mahagst.gov.in/sites/default/files/ddq/GST%20ARA%20ORDER-22.%20BAJAJ%20FINANCE%20LTD.pdf

[5] [5] http://www.cbic.gov.in/resources//htdocs-cbec/gst/Notification12-CGST.pdf;jsessionid=3D2C63EDD8A1183AEB262F41985CB224

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