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    Introduction:

     

    Agricultural Sector is the largest contributor to the Indian economy. It covers around 16% of the overall GDP of the Country. Under the earlier regime, Centre and State Governments are lenient in taxing the agricultural sector as compared to all other sectors. However, GST is implemented on the premise to widen the tax base with fewer exemptions and to ensure seamless flow of input tax credit so that the entire tax burden will be rested on the end consumers. This will have a bearing on all the business sectors and will impact one or the other aspects of every sector. Agriculture is no exception. In this article, an attempt is made to provide a macro view on the overall impact of GST on agricultural sector.

     

    Agriculturist is relieved from GST Compliances:

     

    The word ‘Agriculturist’ is defined under section 2(7) of CGST Act, 2017 to mean an individual or HUF who undertakes cultivation of land by own labour or by labour of family or by employing labour on wages or through hired labour. In terms of Section 23(1)(b), an agriculturist is relieved from the requirement of registration to the extent related to supply of produce arising out of cultivation of land. This would imply that any agriculturist is not legally required to collect and pay GST to Government, though the produce of the agriculturist would be subject to GST. This would mean that the person who buys such produce from an agriculturist is required to discharge the corresponding GST liability under reverse charge mechanism as it becomes a supply from unregistered persons in terms of Section 9(4) of CGST Act, 2017. A similar practice was adopted by State Governments under earlier regime also, in order to relieve the farmers from the burden of VAT compliance.

     

    However, the said privilege is not applicable to those persons who are involved in animal husbandry and aquaculture. Thus subject to other requirements relating to taxability, these persons are required to register and pay GST upon supply of meat, eggs, milk, fish, shrimps, prawns etc.

     

    GST Impact on Agricultural Produce:

     

    Under the earlier regime, there used to be no excise duty or any other central taxes on agricultural produce as the said activities does not amount to manufacture. The only tax implications are of VAT or CST. Many of the states used to charge VAT at the rate of 5% on most of the agricultural produce viz. rice, wheat, barley, oats, maize etc. However, under GST there is not tax on these items unless they are sold in unit containers bearing a registered brand name. In such case, the applicable GST rate is 5%. Thus, compared to earlier regime, the tax impact on agricultural produce under GST regime is reduced and is restricted only to that produce that is sold under a brand name which are meant for consumption by wealthy citizens.

     

    GST Impact on Milk Products:

     

    Fresh milk, Pasteurised milk, separated milk curd, lassee and butter milk are not subject to VAT and excise duty under the earlier regime. These items continue to be exempt under GST also. Condensed milk was subject to VAT at 5% and excise duty at 12.5% under the earlier regime. It is now going to be taxed at GST

     

     

     

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    rate of 18%. In case of ultra-high temperature milk, which possess longer shelf life upto nine months, there used to be no excise duty but were subject to VAT at the rate of 5%. Now they are subject to GST at the rate of 5%. Thus, there is no increased tax impact on milk products due to GST.

     

    GST Impact on Animal Husbandry and Aquaculture:

     

    Live birds and their eggs, sheep, goats, swine, bovine animals were not subject to any VAT and they continue to be exempt under GST also. Meat used to be completely exempt under VAT. Under GST regime, frozen meat sold in unit containers under a registered brand name are subject to GST at the rate of 12%.

     

    Coming to aquaculture, all kinds of fishes, prawns, shrimps were not subject to any VAT and they continue to be exempt under GST also. However, frozen meat of these items sold in unit containers under a registered brand name are subject to GST at the rate of 5%. Thus, under GST regime there is a higher tax impact on frozen meet.

     

    GST Impact on capital goods and inputs used in Agriculture:

     

    The capital goods required by agriculturists includes tractors, agriculture equipment, horticulture equipment, harvesting equipment, sprinklers, dippers, poultry machinery including incubators and brooders etc. All these items are exempted from excise duty under the earlier regime. They are subject to VAT at the rate of 5% in most of the states. Under GST regime, sprinklers and dippers are subject to GST at 18% while all other agriculture equipment is subject to GST at the rate of 12%. Thus these items would be subject to a higher tax rate under GST. However, as these items are exempted from excise duty under the earlier regime, there could be hidden tax impact on these items as no credit of service tax and excise duty paid by manufacturers of these items are allowed as CENVAT.

     

    Coming to fertilisers, they are subject to VAT at the rate of 5% and excise duty at the rate of 1% without CENVAT. Therefore, the duty impact is around 6%. As there is no benefit of CENVAT of excise duty and service tax paid by manufacturers on their inputs and input services, there was a hidden tax impact on these items. Under GST regime, they are going to be taxed at 5%. Further, there are no restrictionson availment of input tax credit under GST. Thus, there is favourable tax impact in case of fertilisers.

     

    Coming to the case of seeds including fish and prawn seeds, prawn feeds and other aquatic feeds, they are not subject to any tax under the earlier regime as well as under GST regime.

     

    Conclusion:

     

    Upon comprehension of the above tax changes of various aspects of agricultural sector, it is inevitable that both Centre and States continues to be lenient in taxing this sector under GST regime also. Only products that are sold under a registered brand name which are meant for consumption by wealthy citizens are subject to additional tax burden. In fact, the essential items like rice, wheat, barley, oats, maize etc are free of any tax as compared to earlier regime which is a welcoming move.

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    As per Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Money laundering is the processing of the criminal proceeds to disguise their illegal origin. This process is of critical importance, as it enables the criminal to enjoy these profits without jeopardising their source.

     

    As per US Department of Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) 2, Money Laundering is the process of making illegally-gained proceeds (i.e. "dirty money") appear legal (i.e. "clean").

     

    Money laundering can facilitate crimes such as Illegal arms sales, smuggling, and the activities of organised crime, including for example drug trafficking and prostitution rings, can generate huge amounts of proceeds. Embezzlement, insider trading, bribery and computer fraud schemes can also produce large profits and create the incentive to “legitimise” the ill-gotten gains through money laundering.

     

    When a criminal activity generates substantial profits, the individual or group involved must find a way to control the funds without attracting attention to the underlying activity or the persons involved. Criminals do this by disguising the sources, changing the form, or moving the funds to a place where they are less likely to attract attention.

     

    Typically, Money Laundering involves three steps: placement, layering and integration. First, the illegitimate funds are furtively introduced into the legitimate financial system. Then, the money is moved around to create confusion, sometimes by wiring or transferring through numerous accounts. Finally, it is integrated into the financial system through additional transactions until the "dirty money" appears "clean".

     

    Many countries as part of their efforts to address the menace of Money Laundering have formed various groups of countries and they have been listed here for ready reference3

     

    1. Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
    2. Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG)
    3. Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF)
    4. Eurasian Group (EAG)
    5. Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG)

     

    1. Groupe d’Action contre le blanchiment d’Argent en Afrique Centrale (GABAC) - The Task Force on Money Laundering in Central Africa
    2. Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT)

     

     

     

     

    1

    http://www.fatf-gafi.org/faq/moneylaundering/#d.en.11223

    2

    https://www.fincen.gov/history-anti-money-laundering-laws

    3

    http://www.fatf-gafi.org/countries/

     

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    1. Inter Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)
    2. Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF)

     

    1. The Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL)

    FATF

     

    In response to mounting concern over money laundering, the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering (FATF) was established by the G-7 Summit in Paris in 1989 to develop a co-ordinated international response. One of the first tasks of the FATF was to develop Recommendations, 40 in all, which set out the measures national governments should take to implement effective anti-money laundering programmes.

     

    FATF in February 2012 as part of Anti Money Laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) standards has published “International Standards On Combating Money Laundering And The Financing Of Terrorism & Proliferation” and also later published many other relevant publications/ standards.

     

    Virtual Currencies and Block Chain Technology

     

    Virtual currency4  is a digital representation (1) a medium of exchange; and/or (2) a unit of account; and/or

     

    • a store of value, but does not have legal tender status (i.e., when tendered to a creditor, is a valid and legal offer of payment) in any jurisdiction. It is not issued nor guaranteed by any jurisdiction, and fulfils the above functions only by agreement within the community of users of the virtual currency. Virtual currency is distinguished from fiat currency (a.k.a. “real currency,” “real money,” or “national currency”), which is the coin and paper money of a country that is designated as its legal tender; circulates; and is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the issuing country. It is distinct from e-money, which is a digital representation of fiat currency used to electronically transfer value denominated in fiat currency. E-money is a digital transfer mechanism for fiat currency – i.e., it electronically transfers value that has legal tender status.

     

    Bitcoin is a worldwide cryptocurrency and digital payment system invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It was released as open-source software in 2009.

     

    The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, bitcoin is called the first decentralized digital currency.

     

    Besides being created as a reward for mining, bitcoin can be exchanged for other currencies,products, and services in legal or black markets.

     

    As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment.

     

     

    4http://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/reports/Virtual-currency-key-definitions-and-potential-aml-cft-risks.pdf

     

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    Virtual Currencies- Challenges to Anti Money Laundering Laws

     

     

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    According to research produced by Cambridge University in 20175 , there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin.As per the said report the total cryptocurrency market capitalisation has increased more than 3x since early 2016, reaching nearly $25 billion in March 2017

     

    Apart from Bitcoin (BTC) there are largest cryptocurrencies viz., ETHEREUM (ETH), DASH, MONERO (XMR), RIPPLE (XRP), LITECOIN (LTC)

     

    The FinCEN guidance states that a user who obtains virtual currency and uses it to purchase real or virtual goods or services is not a Money Services Business (MSB). Importantly, the FinCEN guidance states that an administrator or exchange that 1) accepts and transmits a virtual currency or 2) buys or sells virtual currency for any reason is a money transmitter (an MSB) under FinCEN’s regulations and would be subject to the Banking Secrecy Act (BSA) monitoring and reporting requirements unless a limitation to or exemption from the definition applies to the person

     

    As per the said report 24% of incorporated wallets have a formal license from a regulatory authority, and all of them are wallet providers that offer national-to-cryptocurrency exchange services. 25% of wallets providing centralised national-to- cryptocurrency exchange services do not have a government license

     

    In order to keep more focus on the impact of cryptocurrencies on AML, for getting more details about Bitcoin the reader is requested to refer the paper presented by our team member which is available for download at http://sbsandco.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/June-2017-e-Journal-Digest.pdf

     

    In order to give a Birds eye view some of the recent issues pertaining to illegal activities carried on by using virtual currencies are dwelled at length herein below:

     

    Silk Road case

     

    There was one significant case example cited to IRS6 that involved Ross Ulbricht, the creator and operator of the “Silk Road” website. Criminal Investigation participated in an investigation along with several other Federal Government agencies. According to court documents, Ulbricht created the Silk Road in January 2011 and owned and operated the underground website until it was shut down by law enforcement authorities in October 2013. The Silk Road served as a sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet where unlawful goods and services, including illegal drugs of virtually all varieties, were bought and sold regularly by the site’s users. While in operation, the Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers, and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars deriving from these unlawful transactions. Ulbricht sought to anonymize transactions on the Silk Road by operating it on a special network of computers on the Internet designed to conceal the identities of the networks’ users. Ulbricht also designed the Silk Road to include a bitcoin-based payment system that concealed the identities and locations of the users transmitting and receiving funds through the site.

     

     

     

    5Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study by Dr Garrick Hileman & Michel Rauchs

     

    • https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2016reports/201630083fr.pdfand http://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/reports/Virtual-currency-key-definitions-and-potential-aml-cft-risks.pdf

     

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    Virtual Currencies- Challenges to Anti Money Laundering Laws

     

     

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    The Silk Road case is an example of a successful collaborative Federal investigation, but it is also a reminder that the anonymity feature of some virtual currencies is what attracts unscrupulous individuals to their use. The IRS should prepare a comprehensive virtual currency strategy that will assist taxpayers lawfully engaged with virtual currencies to voluntarily comply with the tax laws while seeking to identify individuals unlawfully engaged in their use.

     

    Liberty Reserve Case7

     

    In what is to date the largest online money-laundering case in history, in May 2013, the US Department of Justice charged Liberty Reserve, a Costa Rica-based money transmitter, and seven of its principals and employees with operating an unregistered money transmitter business and money laundering for facilitating the movement of more than 6 billion USD in illicit proceeds. In a coordinated action, the Department of the Treasury identified Liberty Reserve as a financial institution of primary money laundering concern under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act, effectively cutting it off from the US financial system.

     

    Established in 2006, Liberty Reserve was designed to avoid regulatory and law enforcement scrutiny and help criminals distribute, store, and launder the proceeds of credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, narcotics trafficking, and child pornography by enabling them to conduct anonymous and untraceable financial transactions. Operating on an enormous scale, it had more than a million users worldwide, including more than 200 000 in the United States, and handled approximately 55 million transactions, almost all of which were illegal. It had its own virtual currency, Liberty Dollars (LR), but at each end, transfers were denominated and stored in fiat currency (US Dollars)

     

    To use LR currency, a user opened an account through the Liberty Reserve website. While Liberty Reserve ostensibly required basic identifying information, it did not validate identities. Users routinely established accounts under false names, including blatantly criminal names (“Russia Hackers,” “Hacker Account,” “Joe Bogus”) and blatantly false addresses (“123 Fake Main Street, Completely Made Up City, New York”). To add a further layer of anonymity, Liberty Reserve required users to make deposits and withdrawals through recommended third-party exchangers— generally, unlicensed money transmitting businesses operating in Russia, and in several countries without significant governmental money laundering oversight or regulation at that time, such as Malaysia, Nigeria, and Vietnam. By avoiding direct deposits and withdrawals from users, Liberty Reserve evaded collecting information about them through banking transactions or other activity that would create a central paper trail. Once an account was established, a user could conduct transactions with other Liberty Reserve users by transferring LR from his or her account to other users including transferring funds, making the transfers completely untraceable. After learning it was being investigated by US law enforcement, Liberty Reserve pretended to shut down in Costa Rica but continued to operate through a set of shell companies, moving millions through their accounts in Australia, Cyprus, China, Hong Kong, Morocco, Russia, Spain and elsewhere

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    7http://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/reports/Virtual-currency-key-definitions-and-potential-aml-cft-risks.pdf

     

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    Virtual Currencies- Challenges to Anti Money Laundering Laws

     

     

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    Bitcoin related Ponzi Scheme8

     

    The U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, has issued several recent statements signaling a steady pursuit of criminal conduct related to bitcoin. First, on Thursday, November 6, 2014, Trendon Shavers was arrested and charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud in connection with what Mr. Bharara describes as the “first federal criminal securities fraud case involving a bitcoin-related Ponzi scheme.” Notably, this criminal case follows a civil action against Mr. Shavers that was filed by the SEC in July 2013, and allowed to proceed in Texas federal court in August 2013. According to the criminal complaint filed in New York federal court, Mr. Shavers who runs a company called Bitcoin Savings and Trust – allegedly raised more than 764,000 bitcoin from investors between September 2011 and September 2012. Mr. Shavers allegedly told investors that he would engage in a bitcoin market arbitrage strategy (i.e., lending bitcoin to others for a fixed period of time, trading bitcoin via online exchanges, and selling bitcoin locally via private off-market transactions). In return for the investors’ bitcoin, Mr. Shavers promised up to one percent per day. According to the U.S. Attorney, however, Mr. Shavers failed to execute the claimed market arbitrage strategy, failed to honor investors’ redemption requests, and failed to deliver the agreed upon rates of interest.

     

    Apart from the above cases, the recent Wanna Cry ransom ware has primarily used the Bitcoin to extract the money from the people, whose systems have been effected with the virus, to claim the data back.

     

    Virtual Currencies and AML from India perspective

     

    India is a member of FATF, APG and EAG. India has passed legislation for Anti Money-Laundering in the year 2002 called as Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (Act No. 15/2003) (PMLA 2002) and also framed Rules thereunder

     

    The PMLA 2002 has approximately total 78 sections and one Schedule prescribing list of various offences considered to be Money Laundering activities.

     

    RBI has issued two Press Releases dated 24th December, 2013 and 01st February, 2017 stating that it cautions Virtual Currencies (VCs), including Bitcoins, about the potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks that they are exposing the users, holders and traders of themselves

     

    The RBI advises that it has not given any licence / authorisation to any entity / company to operate such schemes or deal with Bitcoin or any virtual currency. As such, any user, holder, investor, trader, etc. dealing with Virtual Currencies will be doing so at their own risk.

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    In the era of digitized information, online advertising has grown leaps and bounds over the decade. In this regard, Google has introduced revolutionary technology called ‘Google AdSense’. The said technology can be broadly classified in two types. One is ‘AdSense for Search’, where the said technology is designed to enable website publishers who want to display targeted text, video or image advertisements on their website pages and earn money when site visitors view or click the ads. The other type is ‘AdSense for Content’ where ads are placed on content shared in Google online platforms like Blogger and You Tube and Google share a portion of revenue with the owners of the content. In this article, the GST implications on AdSense revenue shared by Google to website publishers or the content owners as the case may be are discussed.

     

    WHETHER THE REVENUE SHARE TO WEBSITE OWNERS OR CONTENT SUPPLIERS AMOUNTS TO SUPPLY?

     

    Before, we analyse the tax implications, let us understand the manner in which online advertising is undertaken through this AdSense technology. In the transactions relating to online advertising through AdSense, there are three players involved. One is the customer who wants to place their ads in various websites. The second player is Google who would be approached by customer to place their ads. The third player is the web publishers (website owners) who publish information in their websites which will be accessed by netizens .In case of Google Online Platforms like Blogger and YouTube, the content owners who maintain blogs or upload videos as the case may be will replace the role of website publishers. Google places ads on the websites or their online platforms in order to reach the netizens. The customers who desires to place ads in websites pays money to Google and a portion of same is shared to website owners.

     

    With this understanding of the business model, let us proceed to understand the GST implications. The placing of ads by Google for customers amounts to supply of the nature of sale of space for online advertising. GST is applicable on this transaction. The next important question for consideration is whether the website publishers or content owners are said to have supplied any service to Google in order to attract GST.

     

    One prevalent conception in this regard is that Google is sharing revenue on the basis of clicks/views and there is no service undertaken by these website publishers or content owners. In this context, Let us examine the word ‘Supply’ as defined under Section 7 of CGST Act, 2017 which is reproduced as follows;

     

    • For the purposes of this Act, the expression “supply” includes––

     

    • all forms of supply of goods or services or both such as sale, transfer, barter, exchange, licence, rental, lease or disposal made or agreed to be made for a consideration by a person in the course or furtherance of business;

     

    • import of services for a consideration whether or not in the course or furtherance of business;

     

    • the activities specified in Schedule I, made or agreed to be made without a consideration; and

     

    • the activities to be treated as supply of goods or supply of services as referred to in Schedule II.


     

     

     

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    In view of the above definition of ‘Supply’, the term ‘supply’ is defined in an inclusive manner which includes all kinds of supply of goods or services undertaken for a consideration by a person in the course or furtherance of business. Therefore, any activity undertaken for consideration in the course or furtherance of business would become supply. In this context, let us understand that whether the website publishers or content owners are carrying out any activity in order to conclude that there is a supply of service by them to Google.

     

    Google will place ads only on those websites or on the content shared by content owners who have opened AdSense account by satisfying the conditions and accepting the pre-determined terms of Google. Thus by creating AdSense account, the website publishers or content owners gives right or permission to Google to monetize their websites/content by placing ads. This by itself constitutes a supply of service in the course or furtherance of business without which Google’s activity of placing ads in others websites or content may not be lawful.

     

    Temporary transfer or permanent transfer or permitting to use the intellectual property right in respect of goods other information technology software is subject to GST at 12%. The website publishers or the content owners does not extend any copyright being intellectual property relating to their content but it merely extends to Google, a right towards commercial exploitation of their website or content by placing ads. Thus the right extended is a mere intangible right other than intellectual property right. In view of this reason, the service undertaken by website publishers or the content owners would be covered under the residuary category i.e. services not elsewhere specified and subject to GST at 18%.

     

    WHETHER THE SAID SERVICES QUALIFY AS EXPORT?

     

    Google accepts the terms and conditions with the website publishers and content owners globally with any one of the following entities as contracting party depending on the location of the website publishers or content owners;

     

    1. Google Inc.
    2. Google Ireland
    3. Google Advertising (Shanghai) Company Limited
    4. Google Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd

     

    With respect to website publishers or content owners situated in India, the contract party of Google is Google Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd which is located in Singapore. Thus the recipient of service in case of AdSense Revenue is situated outside India and the services are cross border. In such case, the governing Legislation to determine the tax implicationsis Integrated Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (herein after referred to IGST Act).

     

    Section 5 of the IGST Actprovides for levy of IGST which provides that IGST shall be levied on all inter-state supplies of goods or services. Whether a particular supply becomes an Inter-State supply or not shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of Section 7.Sub-section (5) of the said section talks about the situations where supplies taking place between a supplier located in India and the recipient of supply located outside India. The said sub-section is reproduced as under;

     

     

     

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    GST Implications on AdSense Revenue

     

     

     

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    “(5) Supply of goods or services or both,––

    • when the supplier is located in India and the place of supply is outside India;
    • to or by a Special Economic Zone developer or a Special Economic Zone unit; or

     

    • in the taxable territory, not being an intra-State supply and not covered elsewhere in this section, shall be treated to be a supply of goods or services or both in the course of inter-State trade or commerce.

     

    In view of the above provision, a supply of goods or service will become inter-state supply if the supplier is located in India and place of supply is outside India. In the instant case, website publishers or content owners are located in India. Therefore, the service involved can be considered as an inter-state transaction only when the place of supply of the said service is said to be outside India.

     

    To determine, place of supply in case of cross border services, section 13 of the IGST Act, 2017 is relevant. Sub-section(2) of said section provides that in case of cross border services, place of supply in general is the location of the recipient of service unless the situation or instance is expressly covered under other sub-sections of said section. On perusal of section 13, the service involved in the present case is not covered by any specific instance or situation of the other sub-sections of the said section. Therefore, the place of supply of the present service shall be determined in terms of sub-section (2). Accordingly, location of recipient of supply is the place of supply which is outside India in the present case. Therefore, the service involved in the present case, can be considered as an inter-state supply which comes within the ambit of levy under section 5 of the IGST Act, 2017.

     

    However, it is worth to examine Section 16 of the IGST Act, 2017 which provides that certain supply of goods or services are to be treated as Zero-rated supplies (no need to pay any GST). The said section is reproduced as under—

     

    “16. (1) “zero rated supply” means any of the following supplies of goods or servicesor both, namely:––

     

    (a) export of goods or services or both; or

     

    (b) supply of goods or services or both to a Special Economic Zone developer or a Special Eco n o m i c Zone unit.

     

    • Subject to the provisions of sub-section (5) of section 17 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, credit of input tax may be availed for making zero-rated supplies, notwithstanding that such supply may be an exempt supply.

     

    • A registered person making zero rated supply shall be eligible to claim refund under either of the

     

    following options, namely:––

     

    • he may supply goods or services or both under bond or Letter of Undertaking, subject to such conditions, safeguards and procedure as may be prescribed, without payment of integrated tax a n d claim refund of unutilised input tax credit; or

     

    (b) he may supply goods or services or both, subject to such conditions, safeguards and procedure a s may be prescribed, on payment of integrated tax and claim refund of such tax paid on goods or services or both supplied, in accordance with the provisions of section 54 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act or the rules made thereunder.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    GST Implications on AdSense Revenue

     

     

     

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    In terms of sub-section (1) of the said section, exports of goods or services are treated as zero-rated. The term ‘Export of Service’ is defined under section 2(6) of the IGST Act, 2017 which is reproduced as under—

     

    “export of services” means the supply of any service when––

    • the supplier of service is located in India;
    • the recipient of service is located outside India;
    • the place of supply of service is outside India;

     

    • the payment for such service has been received by the supplier of service in convertible foreign exchange; and

     

    • the supplier of service and the recipient of service are not merely establishments of a distinct person in accordance with Explanation 1 in section 8”

     

    In terms of the above definition, a service is said to be exported if the supplier of service is located in India and recipient is located outside India and payment has been received in convertible foreign exchange. In the instant case, the recipient of service Google Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, is located in Singapore and therefore, the service qualifies as an export of service. Accordingly, the supply of services by website publishers or the content owners will be considered as zero-rated supplies and no GST is required to be paid.

     

    CONCLUSION:

     

    In view of the foregoing discussions, AdSense revenue shared by Google to website publishers or content owners will be a supply of service that attracts GST at the rate 18%. However, as the contracting party of Google i.e. Google Asia Pacific Pte Ltd is located in Singapore and the website publishers or content owners are located in India are paid in convertible foreign exchange, the services qualifies as an export and are zero-rated supplies. Thus in the opinion of the paper writers, no GST is required to be paid on share of AdSense revenue by Google.

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