Tackling the service charge issue | Fusion - WeRIndia

Tackling the service charge issue

Tackling the service charge issue

The Government of India has recently announced that they will be taxing all restaurants and hotels who cannot show how their service charges are distributed to their staff members.

Ram Vilas Paswan, the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, announced that the Department of Consumer Affairs has suggested to the Central Board of Direct Taxes to include service charges while assessing taxes.

A set of guidelines released last April stated that it is not required for customers to pay the service charges on hotel and restaurant bills. Instead, customers will now fill up a blank service charge column before making their final payment.

Service charges are no longer required because of a clause which states that a customer can only place an order after agreeing to pay the price on the menu, including the applicable taxes. Charging above this agreed amount would violate the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.

The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 states that any unfair or deceptive promotional practice will be treated as an unfair trade practice. Therefore, a consumer can file a complaint about this practice on the consumer forum that was established under the Consumer Protection Act.

Now, the government has come out with its announcement to tax all restaurants and hotels who give unaccounted service charges to their customers. To avoid being taxed, a restaurant or hotel must provide proof that they have been distributing the collected service charges to their staff.

Otherwise, the collected service charges will be taken into account as part of the income of the restaurant or hotel. Naturally, restaurant associations have not been pleased with the government’s announcement.

They have stated that these guidelines cannot be enforced, since they are simply guidelines, not laws.

However, if these associations wish to avoid an additional tax on their income, then they and the government will have to see eye to eye.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay (Free for commercial use)

Image Reference: https://pixabay.com/photos/income-tax-calculator-accounting-4097292/

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