A senior advocate is an advocate, who with his consent, be designated as senior advocate if the Supreme Court or a High Court is of opinion that by virtue of his ability and special knowledge or experience in law, he is deserving of such distinction. Earlier, CBEC made services of senior advocate taxable under forward charge. Now, CBEC further issued three notifications 32/2016, 33/2016 and 34/2016. The impact of these notifications are as follows:
1. Earlier, legal services provided by senior advocates to any person carrying out any activity relating to industry, commerce or any other business or profession were not exempt from service tax. Now, legal services provided by senior advocates would be exempt from service tax, if services are provided to –
- Any person other than business entity, or
- Business entities having turnover of less than 10 lacs in preceding financial year.
2. Earlier, senior advocates were liable to pay service tax on services provided by them. Now, services provided by senior advocate to business entity by way of representation before any court are taxable under reverse charge. Therefore, service recipient (litigant, petitioner or applicant) is liable to pay service tax on services received from senior advocates.
However, it is noteworthy that Government has moved to Supreme Court on stay order granted by Calcutta and Delhi High Court on recovery of service tax on legal services provided by senior advocates.