India: Levy Of Service Tax On Activities Involved In Relation To Inward Remittances From Abroad To Beneficiaries In India

Last Updated: 17 November 2015
Article by Shipra Makkar Devgun and Shefali Shukla

Most Read Contributor in India, September 2016

A Brief Scenario

Prior to July, 2012; Service Tax was applicable on a positive list approach which means earlier all services were exempted from payment of service tax except those specifically mentioned in the Act. However pursuant to July, 2012 a negative list approach is being applied.

As per the new charging Section 66 B of the Finance Act as amended in 2012 "there shall be levied a tax at the rate of 12% on the value of all services, other than those services specified in the negative list, provided or agreed to be provided in the taxable territory by one person to another and collected in such manner as may be prescribed." Meaning thereby, all the services provided or agreed to be provided within the taxable territory shall be taxable under Service Tax, until and unless they fall under the negative list.

Furthermore, under the earlier system of taxation of services, there were 88 exemption notifications. The need for exemption notification was not obviated with the introduction of taxation of services based on negative list of services. While some earlier exemptions have been built into the negative list, others, wherever necessary have been retained as exemptions in addition to few more which have been granted, the only difference is that for the ease of reference and convenience, all the exemption are now a part of one Mega Exemption Notification No. 25/ 2012.

In all the discussions above, the point which is pertinent to highlight is the meaning of the word "Taxable Territory" which according to Section 65B (52) means the territory to which the provisions of this chapter apply i.e to the whole of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir. At this juncture, it shall also be worth mentioning that the taxing jurisdiction of any service is determined under the place of Provision of Services Rules, 2012.

Levy of Service Tax on the Foreign Exchange Remitted to India

On the issue of levy of Service Tax on the activities involved in the inward remittances, the Central Board of Excise and Customs [Board], immediately after the introduction of Mega Exemption notification clarified vide Circular No. 163/14/2012-ST dated 10th July, 2012 that there is no service tax per se on the foreign exchange remitted to India from outside for the reason that money does not constitute a service and that conversion charges or fee levied for sending such money would also not be liable to service tax as the person sending the money and the company conducting the remittance are both located outside India or the taxable territory.

It was also clarified that the Indian bank or financial institution that provides services to the foreign bank or any other entity is also not liable to Service Tax as the place of provision of Service shall be the location of recipient of service [as per the place of Provision Rules]. It has to be kept in mind that the said clarification covers the scenario where the Indian Bank provides services on principal to principal basis to the foreign bank or entity, on its account, and thus the service is covered by the Rule-3 of the Place of Provision of Service Rules, 2012 which provides that place of provision of service as the 'location of recipient of services.'

Levy of Service Tax on the Foreign Remittances in India through MT SOs

It has been observed by the Board that foreign Money Transfer Service Operators [MTSO],1 conducting remittances to the beneficiaries in India, are appointing Indian banks or entities as their Representatives/ Agents for providing services of remittances to beneficiaries in India and in return pay commission or fee to such representatives/agents.

The entire sequence of transaction through the MTSO route is as follows:

  • Remitter approaches a MTSO located outside India for remitting money to a beneficiary in India. The MTSO Charges fee from the Remitter.
  • The MTSO avails the services of an Indian agent for delivery of money to the ultimate recepient in India and a commission is paid to the agent.
  • The agent may avail further services from a sub agent and pay him commision therafter.
  • The money is delivered to the beneficiary and a fee may be charged to him by the agent or the sub agent.

Pursuant to the above sequence of transaction, the Board vide Circular No. 180/06/2014-ST dated 14th October, 2014 has provided the following clarifications in relation to the said activities related to inward remittances from abroad in India through these MTSOs:

1. Whether service tax is payable on remittance received in India from abroad?

No service tax is payable per se on the amount of foreign currency remitted to India from overseas. As the remittance comprises money, it does not in itself constitute any service in terms of the definition of 'service' as contained in clause (44) of section 65B of the Finance Act 1994.

2. Whether the service of an agent or the representation service provided by an Indian entity/ bank to a foreign money transfer service operator (MTSO) in relation to money transfer falls in the category of intermediary service?

Yes. The Indian bank or other entity acting as an agent to MTSO in relation to money transfer, facilitates in the delivery of the remittance to the beneficiary in India. In performing this service, the Indian Bank/entity facilitates the provision of Money transfer Service by the MTSO to a beneficiary in India. For their service, agent receives commission or fee. Hence, the agent falls in the category of intermediary as defined in rule 2(f ) of the Place of Provision of Service Rules, 2012.

3. Whether service tax is leviable on the service provided, as mentioned in point 2 above, by an intermediary/agent located in India (in taxable territory) to MTSOs located outside India?

Service provided by an intermediary is covered by rule 9 (c) of the Place of Provision of Service Rules, 2012. As per this rule, the place of provision of service is the location of service provider. Hence, service provided by an agent, located in India (in taxable territory), to MTSO is liable to service tax. The value of intermediary service provided by the agent to MTSO is the commission or fee or any similar amount, by whatever name called, received by it from MTSO and service tax is payable on such commission or fee.

4. Whether service tax would apply on the amount charged separately, if any, by the Indian bank/ entity/agent/sub-agent from the person who receives remittance in the taxable territory, for the service provided by such Indian bank/entity/ agent/sub-agent?

Yes. As the service is provided by Indian bank/ entity/agent/sub-agent to a person located in taxable territory, the Place of Provision is in the taxable territory. Therefore, service tax is payable on amount charged separately, if any.

5. Whether service tax would apply on the services provided by way of currency conversion by a bank /entity located in India (in the taxable territory) to the recipient of remittance in India?

Any activity of money changing comprises an independent taxable activity. Therefore, service tax applies on currency conversion in such cases in terms of the Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules. Service provider has an option to pay service tax at prescribed rates in terms of Rule 6(7B) of the Service Tax Rules 1994.

6. Whether services provided by sub-agents to such Indian Bank/entity located in the taxable territory in relation to money transfer is leviable to service tax?

Sub-agents also fall in the category of intermediary. Therefore, service tax is payable on commission received by sub-agents from Indian bank/entity.

Effect of circular regarding levy of Service Tax on Foreign Remittances:

Since India has large number of persons who send foreign funds to their loved ones, it may be a boon for the Indian economy, the World Bank estimating India to likely to receive more than $71 billion through remittances this year from any service tax on the remittances of foreign Exchanges, however on the other hand, this circular has certainly not provided any benefit to common man i.e. service recipient but has only increases the burden on the pocket of the recipient.


*Shefali Shukla is a CS Intern

1  Circular No. 180/06/2014/-ST dated 14/10/14

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.