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No input tax credit for liquor sales: GST-AAR

Mumbai, Feb 28, 2023

Restaurants that have offset input tax credit (ITC) in respect of liquor sales will be impacted by a recent goods and services tax (GST) advance ruling given by the West Bengal bench. In this regard, the GST-Authority for Advance Rulings (GST-AAR) has held that the applicant would have to reverse the ITC. While advance rulings do not set a judicial precedent, they do influence tax assessments.

Karnani FNB Specialities, the applicant, operated a lounge bar called 'The Grid'. It also provided catering services as well as banquet renting services. It submitted to the AAR that as sale of liquor (aka, alcohol meant for human consumption) was outside the ambit of the GST, it is not liable to reverse the ITC. The AAR bench did not agree with this view.

Sunil Gabhawalla, a chartered accountant who specialises in indirect tax, explains, "The objective of ITC is to avoid cascading impact of tax when both input and output is liable for GST. In case the output is not liable, there is no double taxation and credit should not be available."

The AAR bench held that section 17 (2) of the GST Act, read with rule 42, allows a GST-registered taxpayer to utilise ITC to the extent of input tax paid on inputs and input services that are used for making taxable supplies including zero-rated supplies. However, credit of input tax attributable to exempt supplies is to be reversed according to the prescribed formula. As the AAR bench held the sale of liquor to be an exempt supply, it ruled that the applicant would have to reverse the ITC attributed to the exempt supply.

"Practically, we understand most of the restaurants are not claiming ITC related to liquor sales. Further, restaurants other than those situated in large hotels (charging more than Rs 7,500 per night as room rent) are in any case not eligible for any ITC. However, if a restaurant has claimed ITC for the past periods, it will be liable to reverse the credit. If the credit was already utilised for discharging other taxes, it would also be required to pay interest," stated Gabhawalla.

[The Times of India]

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