08.11.2023: Government mulls some relief on levy of GST on vouchers and gift cards

The government is mulling some relief on the levy of goods and services tax (GST) on vouchers or gift cards offered by companies and retailers, addressing the issue of double taxation in some instances.

A host of retailers offer vouchers or gift cards to customers that can be redeemed for their products. A clarification on the issue is expected shortly, people familiar with the matter told ET.

Some vouchers have GST levied on them at the time of purchase, which leads to double taxation when they are used to buy goods or services that also include the tax. The proposed clarification is expected to clear the air on the taxability of vouchers and gift cards, suggesting they should not be taxed at the point of sale. It is also likely to spell out taxation of vouchers that are tradeable or sold to distributors or dealers by companies.

“It is being examined,” said a government official. 

A final call on the clarification would be taken by the GST Council, the official said, adding that its law committee is looking into the issue.

The issue largely pertains to the taxation of multi-purpose or non-identifiable vouchers, which can be redeemed for any goods or services. Services or the goods paid for by these vouchers face tax at the applicable rate. The industry maintains that these vouchers should be taxed only at the time of redemption at the applicable GST slab on the goods or services purchased and not at the time of their issuance as it would lead to dual taxation.

Single-purpose or identifiable vouchers can be redeemed for the goods they have been issued for and, since the goods or services to be purchased are known, face tax at the time of their issuance.

Additionally, the levy of tax on the entire face value instead of just the commission in case the vouchers are traded, a common practice followed by the industry, is also being examined.

Confusion on the taxability of vouchers, which are a popular promotional tool for companies, followed a 2021 ruling by the Karnataka Authority for Advance Rulings in the case of Premier Sales Promotion Pvt Ltd. This held that vouchers were goods and taxable.

The ruling, upheld by the Appellate Authority for Advance Rulings, was subsequently turned down by the high court.

However, the appellate authority decision prompted authorities in some jurisdictions to impose GST and raise demands for the period before the AAR ruling.

Industry Raises Concerns
Industry has sought clarity as the levy of tax could mean the end of this tool that operates on low margins. It has flagged concerns over the levy of tax at each leg of the distribution of the gift cards or vouchers, including distribution or trade margins and breakage value of unredeemed vouchers.

Source: The Economic Times 

Register Today