July 30, 2023

Taxability of Intermediary Services Remain in Limbo

The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in many countries has revolutionized the tax landscape, aiming to streamline the taxation system and promote economic growth. However, certain aspects of GST remain ambiguous, and one such area is the taxability of intermediary services.

Intermediary services play a vital role in various industries, facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers. The ambiguity surrounding their tax treatment has left businesses uncertain about their tax liabilities and compliance obligations.

In this article, we will delve into the complexities surrounding the taxability of intermediary services under GST and shed light on the challenges businesses face in interpreting and complying with the existing regulations.

Understanding Intermediary Services under GST

Intermediary services refer to services provided by an intermediary that enable a supplier and a recipient of goods or services to communicate and transact with each other. These services are crucial in modern business operations, especially in e-commerce platforms and international trade.

An intermediary can be an agent, broker, commission agent, or any other entity that facilitates the supply of goods or services without altering their essential characteristics.

The Ambiguity in Taxation

The ambiguity in the taxation of intermediary services stems from the definition and classification of these services under GST laws. In many countries, GST laws are yet to provide clear guidelines on whether intermediary services should be taxed directly or treated as exempt from GST.

The classification of intermediary services as either goods or services for tax purposes further complicates the matter. Since GST rates for goods and services can differ significantly, this classification impacts the overall tax liability of businesses providing intermediary services.

Impact on Businesses

The uncertainty surrounding the taxability of intermediary services poses several challenges for businesses:

1. Compliance Burden: Businesses providing intermediary services find it challenging to determine their GST obligations. The lack of clear guidelines leads to increased compliance burdens, as they are unsure about their registration requirements and filing obligations.

2. Tax Liability Determination: The ambiguity makes it difficult for businesses to accurately calculate their tax liability, leading to potential errors in tax remittances.

3. Competitive Disadvantage: The lack of clarity can create a competitive disadvantage for businesses. Some may voluntarily register and pay GST, while others may choose to wait for explicit regulations, leading to an uneven playing field.

Potential Solutions

To address the challenges related to the taxability of intermediary services under GST, authorities and businesses can explore the following potential solutions:

1. Clear Guidelines and Definitions: GST authorities should provide clear guidelines and definitions for intermediary services, outlining their tax treatment and whether they fall under the scope of GST.

2. Advance Rulings: Implementing an advance ruling mechanism can help businesses seek clarity on their tax obligations before providing intermediary services.

3. Industry Consultations: Engaging with industry stakeholders and businesses can provide valuable insights into the unique aspects of intermediary services and inform effective tax policies.

4. Harmonization with International Practices: Learning from and harmonizing with international practices regarding the taxation of intermediary services can offer valuable lessons and best practices.


The ambiguity surrounding the taxability of intermediary services under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) remains an ongoing concern for businesses and tax authorities alike. Clear and unambiguous guidelines are essential to provide businesses with the certainty they need to comply with tax laws accurately.

Businesses providing intermediary services play a critical role in facilitating transactions and fostering economic growth. Addressing the challenges related to the tax treatment of these services is crucial to ensure a conducive business environment and promote compliance with GST regulations.

It is imperative for tax authorities to take proactive measures in providing clarity on the taxability of intermediary services, enabling businesses to plan and operate with confidence, contributing to a more efficient and transparent tax ecosystem.


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