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Friday, March 08, 2013

Laying to rest taxation at Indian resturants

See update as on 16/11/15 at the end.

In addition to the ridiculously high VAT, our stupid authorities have added this nonsense of service tax, currently 12.36%. Too many people are busy posting incorrect information about taxation rules at restaurants. While this is highly appreciated, i.e. the more people are involved in spreading awareness about such matters, the better it is of course. But the problem is that incorrect information spreads just as fast. So lets lay the taxation angle to rest in this post:

Food and Beverage = Rs. 1000.00
Service Charges @ 10% = Rs. 100.00
Service Tax @ 4.94% on Rs 1100 = Rs. 54.34 (on F&B + Service Charges)
VAT @14.5% = Rs. 145.00
Total = Rs. 1299.34
As per the definition - "Service Tax can be charged ONLY for the services provided to the customer".
Now, see what is happening here in the above example.
Service Tax should be charged only on the Service Charge amount i.e Rs.100 ONLY, and NOT on the entire amount (1000+100).
In this example, the customer should be charged only Rs 4.94, whereas he has been charged Rs. 49.00 extra.
Incorrect 2, that too from a presumably knowledgeable body like the DHCBA.

Now from the actual govt notification published here:, one can quite easily make out that service tax is computed on full bill after abatements. The abatement allowed is 60%, i.e. 40% of the food bill is assumed to be "service", and the greedy govt wants a share of this. So final service tax component = 4.94% (0.4 * 12.36%) of total bill. And thats the only correct calculation.

PS1: I refuse to patronize restaurants that tack on a "service charge". Its my prerogative to tip based on the service and I'll be damned if I pay the fixed 7-10% that the owner wants to squeeze out of me. For others who insist on being scalped, at least don't prove that you are a moron by leaving an additional tip, just because your credit card slip has such a provision, or you are feeling even more generous, or cant be bothered with simple maths. Do realize that between VAT, service charge and service tax, you are ending up paying THIRTY PERCENT in extra charges on the food bill. If that doesn't scare you from eating out, you probably deserve to be taken advantage of :)

PS2: Please make it a point to calculate the right amount of taxes and check that the restaurant is authorized to collect. Only A/C restaurants can collect. I've taken to tasks restaurants which collect taxes without TIN number, etc on bill.

Another excellent reading on this topic: Service Tax in Restaurants - What the law really says!
And an even more elaborate post which should leave no doubts in anybody's mind: Computation of service tax on food served in a retaurant

Update 16/11/15: Since Service Tax has increased to 14.5% from 15/11/15, including another nonsense called Swachh Bharat Cess, the Service Tax applied to restaurants is now 5.8% (0.4 * 14.5%)


Unknown said...

This is really very informative article.most people don't have any idea that they are being robbed by restaurants.I will definitely share this article with my friends.

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Anonymous said...

hey, this was a very informative article. Can you also please clarify whether sevrice charge is optional or not? Because I've seen some restaurants charge it or some do not.