GST on Website Maintenance for Pundits Services
In the case of Sadashiv Anajee Shete, (2018 TIOL 310 (AAR-Maharashtra)), the applicant is engaged into the business of assisting believers, followers and devotees to book Pundits or Brahmins online for their religious ceremonies like puja, abhisheks etc. The said service is being provided through applicant's own website by charging money. The said services are given by them under three different business models. In all the three business models consideration is first received by him online and thereafter major part of the consideration is given to Pundits who are having an agreement with the applicant to provide their services as and when it is requisitioned. The applicant has hired various Pundits in order to provide the religious services.
The Authority for Advance Rulings, based on the facts has held that, since the applicant is providing services by way of conducting religious ceremonies by hiring various Pundits/ Brahmins for the welfare of the people through their own website, so the applicant is only acting as a facilitator between the Pundits and customers for provision of the religious services. Further, Pundits are not employee of the applicant but they are providing their services independently. Therefore, the applicant is acting as an 'Intermediary' person, who is taking booking of services online on his own site from the customers, and not eligible to claim exemption under Serial No. 13 of NN. 12/2017-CT (rate) dated 25th June, 2017 (i.e. services provided by a person by way of "conduct of any religious ceremony").
Further, the commission portion received by the applicant out of the total consideration received online from the service recipient would be a taxable supply of service under the provisions of GST Law, and therefore the commission received from the website users would be the value on which the applicant shall be liable to pay GST.