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Tax Publishers

Service Tax on Authorship and Editing Work

Vineet Tiwari

The present write-up is aimed at discussing the nature and scope of levy of service tax on the authorship and editing work provided by individual authors or editors.

1. Nature of services provided by an author or an editor

An author may provide services by way of composing a book, article, poem, play or other literary work intended for publication. An editor also provides similar work of editing a news, article, music, etc. The remuneration to an author may be given by way of royalty or in terms of fixed amount per book or per article written. Some people are also engaged in providing the services of editing of courts judgments and decision to make a summary of the same. This also called as digesting of the cases. These summarized version of the judgments or decisions is supplied to a publishers for publication in the law journals.

2. Declared service

Service provided by an author or an editor is not covered by the declared list. However, their services would fall within the purview of service under clause (44) of section 65B of the Finance Act, 1994. Hence, their services would be chargeable to service tax unless otherwise exempted.

3. Negative list provisions

Services provided by authors or editors are not specified under the negative list under section 66D of the Act, hence these services would be chargeable to service tax unless otherwise exempted under the Notification No. 25/2012-ST, dt. 20-6-2012.

4. Exemption in respect of original literary, dramatic, musical work, etc.

By virtue of Notification No. 25/2012-ST, dt. 20-6-2012 (S. No. 15), as amended by Notification No. 3/2013-ST, dt. 1-3-2013, services provided by way of temporary transfer or permitting the use or enjoyment of a copyright,--

(a) covered under clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 13 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, relating to original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works; or

(b) of cinematographic films for exhibition in a cinema hall or cinema theatre,

are exempt from service tax.

The key ingredients of the above entry are as under:

(i) service is provided by way of temporary transfer or permitting the use or enjoyment of a copyright;

(ii) such copyright is covered under clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 13 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957;

(iii) such copyright is relating to original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work; or

(iv) copyright is if cinematographic films for exhibition in a cinema hall or cinema theatre.

5. Permanent transfer of copyright

It may be noted that the activity of permanent transfer of copyright, being in the nature of sale, is out of the purview of definition of service under clause (44) of section 65B of the Act. Hence, the same is not chargeable to service tax at all. Temporary transfer or permitting use or enjoyment of copyright is regarded as service. Such services mentioned in S. No. 15 are not exempt from service tax.

6. Copyright covered by section 13(1)(a) of copyright Act

As per clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 13 of the Copyright Act, 1957, copyright means the exclusive right subject to the provisions of the Act, to do or authorise the doing of any of the following act in respect of a work or any substantial part thereof, namely--

(a) in the case of literary, dramatic or musical work, not being a computer programme--

(i) to reproduce the work in any material form including the storing of it in any medium by electronic means;

(ii) to issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation;

(iii) to perform the work in public, or communicate it to the public;

(iv) to make any cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the work;

(v) to make any translation of the work;

(vi) to make any adaptation of the work;

(vii) to do in relation to a translation or an adaptation of the work, any of the acts specified in relation to the work in sub-clauses (i) to (vi);

7. Meaning of literary work

As per section 2(o) of the Copyright Act, literary work includes computer programm

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