GST on Sales Promotion Schemes (Credit Notes) – Clarification by CBIC


There was so much ambiguity among the professionals, businessmen and other tax consultants with respect to sale promotions schemes in various forms where suppliers issue credit notes, providing free samples, or others. Some of consultants were saying that the businessmen can not issue any credit note unless it satisfied the conditions mentioned in section 15(3) of CGST Act, 2017.

To remove the ambiguities over this, CBIC brought up a circular CIR-92/11/2019-GST dated 7th March 2019 and CIR-105/24/2019-GST dated 28th June 2019. In this article, we will discuss such ambiguities and clarifications on various schemes.

Free Samples and Gifts

It is a common practice among certain sections of trade and industry, such as, pharmaceutical companies which often provide drug samples to their stockists, dealers, medical practitioners, etc. without charging any consideration.

As per sub-clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 7 of the said 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.

Therefore, the goods or services or both which are supplied free of cost (without any consideration) shall not be treated as “supply” under GST (except in case of activities mentioned in Schedule I of the said Act).

Accordingly, it is clarified that samples which are supplied free of cost, without any consideration, do not qualify as “supply” under GST, except where the activity falls within the ambit of Schedule I of the said Act.

Further, Clause (h) of sub-section (5) of section 17 of the CGST Act provides that ITC shall not be available in respect of goods lost, stolen, destroyed, written off or disposed of by way of gift or free samples.

Clarifications on free samples :-

It is clarified that input tax credit shall not be available to the supplier on the inputs, input services and capital goods to the extent they are used in relation to the gifts or free samples distributed without any consideration.

However, where the activity of distribution of gifts or free samples falls within the scope of “supply” on account of the provisions contained in Schedule I of the said Act, the supplier would be eligible to avail of the ITC.


Buy one get one free offer:

Sometimes, companies announce offers like “Buy One, Get One free”. For example, “buy one soap and get one soap free” or “Get one tooth brush free along with the purchase of toothpaste”. As per sub-clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 7 of the said Act, the goods or services which are supplied free of cost (without any consideration) shall not be treated as “supply” under GST (except in case of activities mentioned in Schedule I of the said Act).

It may appear at first glance that in case of offers like “Buy One, Get One Free”, one item is being “supplied free of cost” without any consideration.

In fact, it is not an individual supply of free goods but a case of two or more individual supplies where a single price is being charged for the entire supply. It can at best be treated as supplying two goods for the price of one.

Clarification:

Taxability of such supply will be dependent upon as to whether the supply is a composite supply or a mixed supply and the rate of tax shall be determined as per the provisions of section 8 of the said Act.

It is also clarified that ITC shall be available to the supplier for the inputs, input services and capital goods used in relation to supply of goods or services or both as part of such offers.


Discounts including ‘Buy more, save more’ offers

Sometimes, the supplier offers staggered discount to his customers (increase in discount rate with increase in purchase volume). For example- Get 10 % discount for purchases above Rs. 5000/-, 20% discount for purchases above Rs. 10,000/- and 30% discount for purchases above Rs. 20,000/-. Such discounts are shown on the invoice itself.

Some suppliers also offer periodic / year ending discounts to their stockists, etc. For example- Get additional discount of 1% if you purchase 10000 pieces in a year, get additional discount of 2% if you purchase 15000 pieces in a year. Such discounts are established in terms of an agreement entered into at or before the time of supply though not shown on the invoice as the actual quantum of such discounts gets determined after the supply has been effected and generally at the year end.

In commercial parlance, such discounts are colloquially referred to as “volume discounts”. Such discounts are passed on by the supplier through credit notes.

Clarification

It is clarified that discounts offered by the suppliers to customers (including staggered discount under “Buy more, save more” scheme and post supply / volume discounts established before or at the time of supply) shall be excluded to determine the value of supply provided they satisfy the parameters laid down in sub-section (3) of section 15 of the said Act, including the reversal of ITC by the recipient of the supply as is attributable to the discount on the basis of document (s) issued by the supplier.

It is further clarified that the supplier shall be entitled to avail the ITC for such inputs, input services and capital goods used in relation to the supply of goods or services or both on such discounts.


Secondary Discounts / Financial Credit Notes /Commercial Credit Notes

These are the discounts which are not known at the time of supply or are offered after the supply is already over. For example, M/s A supplies 10000 packets of biscuits to M/s B at Rs. 10/- per packet. Afterwards M/s A re-values it at Rs. 9/- per packet. Subsequently, M/s A issues credit note to M/s B for Rs. 1/- per packet.

The provisions of sub-section (1) of section 34 of the CGST Act provides as under:-

“Where one or more tax invoices have been issued for supply of any goods or services or both and the taxable value or tax charged in that tax invoice is found to exceed the taxable value or tax payable in respect of such supply, or where the goods supplied are returned by the recipient, or where goods or services or both supplied are found to be deficient, the registered person, who has supplied such goods or services or both, may issue to the recipient one or more credit notes for supplies made in a financial year containing such particulars as may be prescribed.”

Representations have been received from the trade and industry that whether credit notes(s) under sub-section (1) of section 34 of the said Act can be issued in such cases even if the conditions laid down in clause (b) of sub-section (3) of section 15 of the said Act are not satisfied.

Clarifications:

It is hereby clarified that financial / commercial credit note(s) can be issued by the supplier even if the conditions mentioned in clause (b) of sub-section (3) of section 15 of the said Act are not satisfied. In other words, credit note(s) can be issued as a commercial transaction between the two contracting parties.

It is further clarified that such secondary discounts shall not be excluded while determining the value of supply as such discounts are not known at the time of supply as the conditions laid down in clause (b) of sub-section (3) of section 15 of the said Act are not satisfied.

In other words, value of supply shall not include any discount by way of issuance of credit note(s) as explained above or by any other means, except in cases where the provisions contained in clause (b) of sub-section (3) of section 15 of the said Act are satisfied.

There is no impact on availability or otherwise of ITC in the hands of supplier in this case.

In relation to doubts as to whether the dealer will be eligible to take ITC of the original amount of tax paid by the supplier of goods or only to the extent of tax payable on value net of amount for which such financial / commercial credit notes have been received by him.

It is clarified that the dealer will not be required to reverse ITC attributable to the tax already paid on such post-sale discount received by him through issuance of financial / commercial credit notes by the supplier of goods in view of the provisions contained in second proviso to sub-rule (1) of rule 37 of the CGST Rules read with second proviso to sub-section (2) of section 16 of the CGST Act as long as the dealer pays the value of the supply as reduced after adjusting the amount of post-sale discount in terms of financial / commercial credit notes received by him from the supplier of goods plus the amount of original tax charged by the supplier. { CIR-105/24/2019-GST dated 28th June 2019}

{Author Comments : As per my opinion,  sub-section (1) of Section 15 of CGST Act 2017 provided that value of goods or services or both shall be the price actually paid or payable while calculating taxable value of goods or services or both. So, where credit notes are allowed under section 34(1) of CGST Act 2017, output tax liability may be reduced subject to condition that provisions of section 34(2) must be followed.}


Additional Discount in lieu of consideration for any additional activity / promotional campaign

In the case of Additional discounts, it is crucial to examine the true nature of discount given by the supplier of goods (manufacturer or wholesaler, etc.) to the dealer. It would be important to examine whether the additional discount is given by the supplier of goods in lieu of consideration for any additional activity/ promotional campaign to be undertaken by the dealer.

It is clarified that if the post-sale discount is given by the supplier of goods to the dealer without any further obligation or action required at the dealer’s end, then the post sales discount given by the said supplier will be related to the original supply of goods and it would not be included in the value of supply, in the hands of supplier of goods, subject to the fulfilment of provisions of sub-section (3) of section 15 of the CGST Act.

However, if the additional discount given by the supplier of goods to the dealer is the post-sale incentive requiring the dealer to do some act like undertaking special sales drive, advertisement campaign, exhibition etc., then such transaction would be a separate transaction and the additional discount will be the consideration for undertaking such activity and therefore would be in relation to supply of service by dealer to the supplier of goods.

The dealer, being supplier of services, would be required to charge applicable GST on the value of such additional discount and the supplier of goods, being recipient of services, will be eligible to claim input tax credit (hereinafter referred to as the “ITC”) of the GST so charged by the dealer.


Additional Discount to offer reduced price to customers

If the additional discount is given by the supplier of goods to the dealer “to offer a special reduced price by the dealer to the customer” to augment the sales volume, then such additional discount would represent the consideration flowing from the supplier of goods to the dealer for the supply made by dealer to the customer.

This additional discount as consideration, payable by any person (supplier of goods in this case) would be liable to be added to the consideration payable by the customer, for the purpose of arriving value of supply, in the hands of the dealer, under section 15 of the CGST Act.

The customer, if registered, would be eligible to claim ITC of the tax charged by the dealer only to the extent of the tax paid by the said customer to the dealer in view of second proviso to sub-section (2) of section 16 of the CGST Act.


Read Complete circular > > CIR-92/11/2019-GST dated 07.03.2019 and  CIR-105/24/2019-GST dated 28th June 2019

 

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