Service Tax is a form of indirect tax imposed on specified services called "taxable services". Service tax cannot be levied on any service which is not included in the list of taxable services. Over the past few years, service tax been expanded to cover new services. The objective behind levying service tax is to reduce the degree of intensity of taxation on manufacturing and trade without forcing the government to compromise on the revenue needs. The intention of the government is to gradually increase the list of taxable services until most services fall within the scope of service tax. For the purpose of levying service tax, the value of any taxable service should be the gross amount charged by the service provider for the service rendered by him.
Service Tax was first brought into force with effect from 1 July 1994. All service providers in India, except those in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, are required to pay a Service Tax in India. Initially only three services were brought under the net of service tax and the tax rate was 5%. Gradually more services came under the ambit of Service Tax. The rate of tax was increased from 5% to 8% w.e.f 14 May 2003. From 10 September 2004 the rate of Service Tax was enhanced to 10% from 8%. Besides this 2% education cess on the amount of Service Tax was also introduced. In the Union Budget of India for the year 2006-2007, service tax was increased from 10% to 12%. On February 24, 2009 in order to give relief to the industry reeling under the impact of economic recession, The rate of Service Tax was reduced from 12 per cent to 10 per cent.
Some of the major services that come under the ambit of Service Tax are: Telephone
Custom house agents
Clearing & forwarding agents
Air travel agents
Manpower recruitment Agency