Extended clarification required
Interest subvention income are earnings received from the third party i.e. person other than the borrower. This scheme work as a compensation to the seller who intends to penetrate the market. They arrange low cost finance for their customers (though not low cost because the part of it is compensated by its captive unit).Therefore the seller (lender) offers subsidized rate to the buyer (borrower) and the discounts are borne by the third party who is either a captive unit of the seller or also by Central or State Government who plans to provide financial aid through subvention.
In the case of Daimler Financial Services India Private Limited (DFSI), the advance authority passed a ruling where it was concluded that interest subvention is like “other miscellaneous services” which was received from Mercedes-Benz India Private Limited (MB India) by DFSI and will be chargeable to GST as a supply.
The case of Daimler Financial Services India Private Limited
In the said case, DFSI is registered as an NBFC and is engaged in the business of leasing and financing. DFSI is a captive finance unit of MB India where the customers get a rebate in the interest component when DFSI acts as a financer and the car is purchased from one of the authorized dealers of MB India. MB India is engaged in the manufacture and sale of car which is usually done through its authorized dealer. The difference interest amount for each transaction is paid upfront by MB India to DFSI who raises an invoice against MB India. Payments made by MB India for the interest subvention was done after deducting TDS under section 194A of the IT Act.
The assessee contended that the interest subvention received is an interest and is an exempt supply. Also, the GST law and the Indian Contract Act 1872 recognize that consideration for a transaction can flow from anybody. The loan agreement with the customers also mentioned the applicable interest rate, the interest subsidy received from the MB India and the net interest payable by the customer.
Several reference of rulings were submitted by the assessee through which it contended that
- The interest subvention is a subsidy which is made to offset a part of the loss incurred by charging a lower rate of interest.
- Consideration can flow from a person other than the borrower.
- If a contract stipulates that for the use of creditor’s money a certain profit shall be payable to the creditor, that profit is interest by whatever name called.
The following points were put up by the department:
The department that DFSI had not borrowed money from MB India. Also interest income can be exempt when there is a direct supply. It was also put that the interest income exempt through notification is not valid for a payment made by third party. The whole structure was set up to promote the business of DFSI.
The department gave reference to section 15 of the CGST Act, where value of supply includes subsidies directly linked to price and the amount of subsidy will be included in the value of supply. Therefore “interest subvention” is an interest subsidy and hence chargeable to GST. Also it was noted that income booked by DFSI is shown under revenue from operations as subsidy income.
The ruling concluded that interest received by DFSI from MB India was to reduce the effective interest rate to the final customer is chargeable to GST as supply under SAC 999792 as other miscellaneous services, agreeing to do an act.
The law behind interest subvention
As per the exempted list of services, consideration represented by way of interest or discount on services by way of extending loans or advance is an exempt supply. As it is evident, that services exclude any transaction in money but includes activities relating to use of money i.e. processing fees falls within the meaning of activities relating to use of money and therefore charged to GST.
When there is an interest subsidy, there are two arrays of interest involved- “applicable fixed interest rate gross” and “Net applicable fixed interest rate”. The borrower is under no obligation to pay the lender interest on principal i.e. the applicable fixed interest rate gross. The lender pays at the net applicable fixed interest rate. The difference between the two arrays of interest is the interest subvention borne by the third party. Technically the consideration paid by the borrower is the subsidized rate of interest. The borrower indirectly pays the differential amount of interest through the third party. Therefore referring section 7 of the CGST Act, consideration paid by the borrower is in the course of business whereas consideration paid by the third party is for furtherance of business. The two considerations received are totally different as one is “interest” and the other is “interest subsidy”.
Further, referring to section 15 (2) (e) of the CGST Act, value of supply of includes subsidies directly linked to the price excluding subsidies provided by the Central and State Governments. The interest subvention received are directly linked to price i.e. the interest paid by the borrower to lender and should be considered as value of supply.
Also the definition of “interest” is defined by the council as – “interest” 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;
The interest paid on money borrowed is under the exempted category of services. Interest subvention disbursed by the captive unit of the lender is not paid on any money borrowed. It is a form of consideration paid so as to promote the business indirectly. They are like any other charges and therefore should not be considered as interest on money borrowed.
Since interest subvention is not interest on money, the same is not an exempt supply and therefore under the purview of GST.
The Advance Ruling Authority (AAR) interpreted the law and considered interest subvention to be taxable under GST. Further clarification is still required on its taxability as one may note that as per section 103 of the CGST Act, the rulings pronounced by the Authority is only binding on the applicant.
Therefore, whether interest subvention is taxable under GST or not requires further attention from the department.