Television

Revenue department clarifies ad agency commission norms

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Broadcasters can relax somewhat now that the Revenue Department has ruled that commission paid to advertising agencies will not be included in the value of taxable service in respect of broadcasting services.

Broadcasting companies, slapped with a five per cent service tax in July this year, had been unsure about whether the commission to ad agencies was to be included in the taxable service.

The companies had made a representation to the finance ministry claiming that a service tax on the commission amount, if levied on both the ad agency and the broadcasters, would be tantamount to double taxation. The revenue department has now clarified that service tax is separately leviable on the commission or discounts received by the ad agencies for placing the advertisements in print or electronic media.

Usually, the gross amount paid by broadcasting agencies is indicated in the invoices raised by them on the ad agency. The commission or discount, which is usually around 15 per cent of the gross amount given to the ad agency, is deducted and the net amount payable by the ad agency to the broadcasting agency is indicated.

The finance ministry, which examined the industry's representations, has clarified that the value of taxable service is the amount received by the broadcaster for providing the service.

According to Ramesh Narayan, president of the Advertising Agencies Association of India, service tax had been imposed on ad agencies three years ago, an imposition which amounted to 0.75 per cent of their revenues. Agencies were not happy about the charge, which he claims is a cumbersome levy and was passed on through advertisers.

The new notification, which concerns the broadcasting companies, clearly stipulates that the 15 per cent commission due to agencies will not be included in the value of taxable service, he says.

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