As if increasing expenses on education were not enough, a recent order by the central government authorities is set to make the affairs of schooling and graduation much dearer for the common man. A recent government directive is set to do just that if it comes into effect hence forcing guardians to cough up more handfuls of money for their child’s school and college education.
The net payable fees of schools and colleges are set to inflate by as much as Rs 3000 and Rs 5000 respectively if the educational institutions intend on passing the onus of paying additional service taxes onto the guardians’ shoulders owing to the directive. It is expected after preliminary enquiries that the institutes will definitely do so if the said circumstance tends to occur in the near future.
Schools across Tamil Nadu have received a directive in this regard from the commissioner of central excise department instructing them to register for auxiliary educational services associated with their respective establishments. Depending on the amount the institutes charge for the aforesaid services, they will be charged with service taxes accordingly.
This directive means that the schools will have to pay up for all auxiliary services like food, transportation, extracurricular activities, recreational and educational field trips, conduction of special examinations like Olympiads, hosting of events and many more. Understandably all chargeable activities except the ones directly coalesced with education will come under the bracket of auxiliary activities.
Interestingly the union budget of 2012 had declared the taxation of auxiliary services provided by the schools which according to some was nothing but a mere misunderstanding due to erroneous representation of intent by the finance ministry. On this regard, many experts and academicians have approached the finance ministry to get the matter clarified publicly. But in the meanwhile the excise department issued the notice to all schools without waiting for the settlement of the dispute.
Various school authorities have argued that the notification is unjust in every possible sense of conscience and rationale. “The government must understand the facts pertaining to the demands of the modern generation. The services that they call as auxiliary ones are now parts of the mainstream system of schooling. Every establishment provides such facilities to its students as co-curricular activities and associated student facilities have now become an integral part of education and not just simple matters of choice,” said A K Rangaswami, an eminent school’s principal.
The excise department on the other hand harbours diagonally opposite views on the matter. They consider any service to be called as an auxiliary service and hold it eligible for taxation if outsourcing of the said service to an outsider is possible. These include supplementary schemes of providing education and knowledge or enhancing skills, activities pertaining to enhancing knowledge like tours and excursions, transportation services for students and staff, conduction of events and exams and catering to students like providing meals. Ironically in an unbiased view, even the government’s own midday meal scheme is scheduled to fall under this category.
The parents are also disturbed at the news and have expressed their disgust at the matter across many quarters. Every section of the population is affirmably against the move with the exception of the central excise department. It needs to be seen what is the final call of the government regarding the matter.