Payment for Maintenance Services - Whether Liable for TDS under Section 194C or Under Section 194J
1. Payment when liable to TDS under section 194C
Tax under section 194C is deducted where any sum is paid to any resident contractor for carrying out any work in pursuance of a contract between the contractor and the specified person
As per clause (iv) of the Explanation to section 194C, “work" shall include: -
2. broadcasting and telecasting including production of programs for such broadcasting or telecasting.
3. carriage of goods or passengers by any mode of transport other than by railways.
5. manufacturing or supplying a product according to the requirement or specification of a customer by using material purchased from such customer, but does not include manufacturing or supplying a product according to the requirement or specification of a customer by using material purchased from a person, other than such customer
2. Payment when liable to TDS under section 194J
Section 194J provides for deduction of tax at source from payments of fees for professional services, technical services, royalty or sums referred to in section 28 (va) like non-compete fee, etc.
3. Nature of payment made for maintenance services
As clarified via CBDT Circular No. 681, dt. 8-3-1994 Service contracts would be covered by the provisions of this section since service means doing any work as explained above. However fees for technical services is governed by section 194J.
As per Circular No. 715, dt. 8-8-1995 routine, normal maintenance contracts which include supply of spares will be covered under section 194C. However, where technical services are rendered, the provision of section 194-J will apply in regard to tax deduction at source
Therefore one has to differentiate between routine services and technical services while ascertaining the applicability of TDS provision.
4. Payment for maintenance of machinery where held to be covered by section 194C
In ITO v. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board 2016 TaxPub(DT) 4437 (Mum-Trib) It was observed that repairs and maintenance and quality monitoring services, etc., provided under an annual maintenance contract (AMC) in Relation to machinery, were not of technical nature and were not covered under section 194J. Being contractual work, assessee was liable to x under section 194C.
Merely because technical persons were involved in rendering the services relating to maintenance, of installed machines it could not be inferred that these services were technical or professional in nature liable to TDS under section 194J. Therefore, tax was liable to be deducted under section 194C, and not under section 194J.—Vide Facets Polishing Works (P) Ltd. V. ITO (2015) 69 SOT 361 (Ahd V'-Trib).
In ITO Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (2015) 40 ITR (Trib) 60 (Mum ‘B'-Trib): (2015) 155 ITD 314 (Mum 'B'-Trib). It was held that annual maintenance contract services related to minor repairing, replacement of spare parts, oiling, greasing, etc., would not fall Category of technical services and therefore, the payment made by assessee towards them was not subjected to TDS under section 194J. Also see, Dy.CIT v. Asian Heart Institute & Research Centre (P) Ltd. (2015) 173 TTJ (MUM 'A'-Trib) 832.
An assessee entered into a contract with the government department for repairing and servicing typewriter and other machines in government offices at periodical intervals and certain specified rates. The above contract was held to be a work contract—Vide Eastern Typewriter Service v.State of Andhra Pradesh (1978) 42 STC18 (AP).
Annual maintenance charges paid towards services of repetitive nature not requiring very high technical qualification, were subject to TDS under section 194C and not under section 194J Vide SBI Life Insurance Co.Ltd. v.Dy. CIT2016 TaxPub (DT) 4958 (Mum-Trib).
5. Payment for rendered towards maintenance of medical equipments
In CIT v Saifee Hospital 2019 TaxPub (DT) 2050 (Bom-HC) the supplier of medical equipments to the assessee hospital had also rendered services of maintenance of these equipments. The assessee deducted tax under section 194C while making payment for maintenance services. However, the departmental authorities sought deduction of tax at source under section 194J.
The Tribunal in respect of the same assessee in earlier year held that the services which are rendered for maintenance of equipment would not be in the nature of technical services. These services being of routine nature, would not be qualified to be called technical services which would require deduction under section 194J of the Act. Purpose of these services was only to ensure the proper maintenance of the machinery/equipment so as to ensure long life for the same. Thus impugned payment would be covered under section 194C for being made for work contract
Where the services rendered in respect of the machinery and equipment are only in nature of maintenance services provided to ensure they function properly and would be able to provide services for a long period of time. This does not involve any technical service. Hence payment for routine maintenance services would be liable for TDS under section 194C instead of section 194J.
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