No service tax on sale of under construction flat if sold with land

By | June 6, 2016

whether the consideration paid by flat buyers to a builder/promoter/developer for acquiring a flat in a complex, which under construction/development, could be subjected to levy of service tax. ?

According to the Petitioner :

  • The agreements entered into by them with the builder are for purchase of immovable property and the Parliament does not have the legislative competence to levy service tax on such transaction. The Petitioners further claim that the Act and the rules made thereunder do not provide any machinery for computation of value of services, if any, involved in construction of a complex and, therefore, no such tax can be imposed.
  • The power of Parliament to levy tax would be limited to only on the service component after excluding the value of goods as well as the value of land from such contracts. He submitted that since neither the Act nor the rules made thereunder provide any machinery provisions for ascertaining the service component of such composite contracts, the levy of service tax must fail
  • For levy of service tax, it is necessary that there should be a service provider and service recipient. Therefore, only the services rendered after execution of the flat buyer’s agreement could be subjected to tax as prior to the said date, in absence of the service recipient, the service in relation to construction of a complex, if any, is rendered by the builder to itself and cannot be subjected to service tax.

Revenue Contention :-

Development of a project results in the substantial value addition on bare land and includes various services such as consulting services, engineering services, management services, architectural services etc. These services are subsumed in the taxable service as contemplated under Section 65(105)(zzzh) of the Act. As the gross charges include value of land and construction material, only 25% of the Base Selling Price (BSP) charged by a builder from the ultimate consumer is subjected to levy of service tax. However in case of preferential location charges, the entire amount charged by a developer is for value addition and, therefore, the gross amount charged for such services is chargeable to service tax under Section 66 read with Section 65(105)(zzzzu) of the Act.


The arrangement between the buyer and the builder is a composite one which involves not only the element of services but also goods and immovable property. Thus, while the legislative competence of the Parliament to tax the element of service involved cannot be disputed but the levy itself would fail, if it does not provide for a mechanism to ascertain the value of the services component which is the subject of the levy. Clearly service tax cannot be levied on the value of undivided share of land acquired by a buyer of a dwelling unit or on the value of goods which are incorporated in the project by a developer. Levying a tax on the constituent goods or the land would clearly intrude into the legislative field reserved for the States under List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.

we find that there is no machinery provision for ascertaining the service element involved in the composite contract. In order to sustain the levy of service tax on services, it is essential that the machinery provisions provide for a mechanism for ascertaining the measure of tax, that is, the value of services which are charged to service tax.

For the purposes of ascertaining the value of services, the Central Government has made Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules 2006 (hereafter ‘the Rules’). However none of the rules provides for any machinery for ascertaining the value of services involved in relation to construction of a complex.

Rule 2A of the Rules provides for mechanism to ascertain the value of services in a composite works contract involving services and goods, the said Rule does not cater to determination of value of services in case of a composite contract which also involves sale of land. The gross consideration charged by a builder/promoter of a project from a buyer would not only include an element of goods and services but also the value of undivided share of land which would be acquired by the buyer.

we accept the Petitioners contention that no service tax under section 66 of the Act read with Section 65(105)(zzzh) of the Act could be charged in respect of composite contracts such as the ones entered into by the Petitioners with the builder. The impugned explanation to the extent that it seeks to include composite contracts for purchase of units in a complex within the scope of taxable service is set aside.


Suresh Kumar Bansal


Union of India


W.P.(C) NOS. 2235 & 2971 OF 2011

JUNE  3, 2016

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