Service tax hike

A few minutes back, I received an SMS from BSNL - my telephone bill was ready.  I could see it was Rs.10/- more than last month. I have a rental plan, which entitles me to about 500 minutes of free calls (to any landline in India) as well as 1.5 GB of internet.  I rarely exceed it and hence wondered about the additional Rs.10/-

I viewed the Bill online and saw that the additional cost was on account of service tax.  I realized that the Union Budget 2012-13 had been passed, which now comes with a higher service tax (from 10% to 12%) along with the existing 2% Education Cess and 1% Higher Education Cess on Service tax) - a total of 12.36% of tax.

This means, my Rs.500/- rental now incurred a Service Tax of Rs.61.80 from Rs.51.50 - an increase of exactly Rs.10.30

And for what do I owe the pleasure of increased Service tax?   In the last 6 months, our telephone line has died at least once in a fortnight - mostly thanks to digging by various utility services in the area around us.   Each such outage, leads to a call from my cell phone to the BSNL call center - an additional charge, mind you.  For the duration of the outage, do I get a discount on the bill?   Ha, you must be joking, right?

Each time, the problem gets resolved, but do we ever hear from BSNL?  Never.  No call to check if the phone is back to normal, no update on why there was a problem in the first place, no indication on when it is going to go down again...  A service worth paying more for indeed!

I guess this is the first of several bills that we will start seeing - with an increased Service Tax component. In fact, the other day, the weekend buffet lunch at Little Italy was advertised as Rs.549/-* (the * being for taxes and other levies).  The actual bill was Rs.675/- - a difference of Rs.176/- I would have had a lunch at Mast Kalandar with that!  On scrutinizing the bill, I could see VAT, Service tax and hold on and service charge!  And this is for a buffet where you do all the serving.