Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review – Service Tax Law and Practice

Rohini Aggarawal’s latest offering once again stands apart from the run of the mill books on service tax available dime a dozen in the market. With the increasing scope of the service tax net, the seventh edition spills over three volumes each focusing on a particular aspect of the law, each preceded by a Budget Supplement.

Rohini Aggarawal has authored a number of books on taxation, corporate and banking laws. Rohini has behind her 18 years of professional experience including association with Pricewaterhouse Coopers and is presently a Principal Consultant at ARX Advisors.

Volume 1 addresses the basic concepts and procedures in service tax ranging from the books and records required to be maintained, registration, classification, export and import of services, valuation, availment of CENVAT Credit, assessments, advance ruling, Large Tax Payer Units etc. The Budget Supplement to the Volume therefore provides a comprehensive list of the amendments proposed/ consequent to the announcements made vide the Finance Bill. In addition, all notifications issued since the last edition of the book have also been reproduced for ease of reference.

The second volume provides an exhaustive commentary on each of the taxable services. The notes for each chapter are detailed and seek to go beyond merely reciting the law. She analyses legislative changes and judicial precedents and succinctly puts them together into a very well researched and considered package. Where Rohini scores over most authors is that she has a very lucid and coherent yet simplistic style of writing whereby she can communicate even the most complex of concepts easily to her readers including those who are new to the subject or at a nascent stage of their practice.

In her interminable style, each chapter is followed by a reference guide which diligently indexes all relevant Notifications/Circulars which are applicable to the section as well as highlight those which have been made redundant by the ensuing changes in law. The Budget Supplement for this Volume also meets the standards expected from her. Rohini has incorporated amendments made or proposed and important judicial precedents vis-a-vis each of the existing taxable services as well as documented the new services proposed to be introduced vide the Finance Bill.

As a practitioner herself, Rohini perhaps is well placed to understand that it is much easier to effectuate changes in the legal framework that is causing interpretational or implementation concerns than put to rest any litigation which may have been instigated by such a legal provision. The third volume therefore, serves as a fantastic reference guide as it is devoted exclusively to the legal matrix applicable to service tax with specific referencing to time frames within which the provisions were operational. It includes all notifications and circulars referred to in Volume Two. Indexes in Volume Two safely guide the readers to the relevant reference page in Volume Three.

The staple charts which serve as ready reckoners for operational aspects of service tax dealing with date of introduction of each of the taxable services, categorisation of taxable services for the purposes of import and export, obligations for payment of tax, rate change etc. have been retained.

Rohini’s usual style of operation is to publish her exposition once the Finance Act has received formal assent and the notifications bringing about the new taxable services have been notified. This year marks a change from the trend as the seventh edition is out in the market at about the same time as other authors have published their post budget editions. She has with this put to rest one of the greatest complaints of her reader base.

However, what cannot be denied is that in an effort to get the books out in the market, the quality of the presentation, printing style, binding has not been upto the mark.

As the Finance Bill is yet to be notified, one would look forward to the eighth edition as a more comprehensively put together treatise as well as better published from quality perspective.

(Mekhla is a lawyer in the Tax Team, specialising in Indirect Taxation, at Amarchand Mangaldas Suresh A. Shroff & Co.)

No comments:

Post a Comment