The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs released a circular on Tuesday regarding the applicability of GST on the reimbursement of electricity charges that airport operators, mall operators, and real estate companies receive from their lessees or tenants.
The government explained that tenants, especially those renting commercial properties, must pay 18% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on electricity charges if the supply coincides with the rental of immovable property and facility maintenance. However, the power billed on an actual basis by real estate owners or malls, which act as discus agents, will not be subject to any GST.
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBLC) released a circular on Tuesday about the applicability of GST on the reimbursement of electricity charges that airport operators, mall operators, and real estate companies receive from their lessees or tenants.
It clarifies that providing electricity in conjunction with the rental of real estate or the upkeep of buildings, as the situation may dictate, constitutes a composite supply and is subject to the appropriate taxation, the statement read.
“The leasing of real estate and grounds maintenance is the primary supply; the provision of electricity is incidental,” the statement reads. “The GST rate on renting immovable property or maintaining premises would be applicable even if electricity happens separately,” the document said.
It also stated explicitly that homeowners in housing societies would not be subject to GST. The resident welfare associations (RWAs), real estate developers acting as pure agents, or real estate owners provide the electricity; it will not be included in the price they pay. “Furthermore, they will appear to be acting as pure agents for this supply where they charge for electricity on an actual basis, that is, they charge the same amount for electricity that the State Electricity Boards or DISCOMs collect from their lessees or occupants,” the statement went on.
Expert opinions on this clarification vary. “The real estate industry is concerned about the CBIC’s most recent clarification. This clarification applies GST to electricity charges, regardless of whether they are provided separately or in conjunction with real estate. Although there are some exceptions, such as when property owners recover electricity costs on an actual basis or act as pure agents,” according to Saurabh Agarwal, a partner at the consulting firm EY.
In his view, “The implications of this clarification remain a concern in cases where real estate companies convert high tension lines to low tension lines and charge higher rates due to transmission loss.” “Going forward, landlords may factor in the GST cost on electricity when determining lease rental amounts, which could increase the rental cost,” he continued.
But MS Mani, a partner at Deloitte India, thought it was for businesspeople. “This will help the recipients of such composite supplies who were uncertain about their eligibility for input tax credits (ITC), in addition to ensuring uniformity of procedures throughout the real estate industry,” he said regarding the clarification on electricity charges recovered as part of a composite supply.