The government has increased the service tax on life insurance policies from 1% to 1.5%. This move would increase the premium cost for policyholders. It is being provided that tax shall be charged in the portion of the premium. The composition rate is also being increased from 1% to 1.5%.
The service tax rate has been increased from 1.03% to 1.545% in case of traditional endowment plans. "Although the increase is marginal, there could be some increase in premium or returns might be lowered," Max New York Life Insurance CEO & Managing Director, Rajesh Sud said.
In the traditional endowment life insurance products where it is not possible to segregate the mortality premium and the premium attributable to investment, service tax is payable at a gross rate of 1% of the total premium. The proposed service tax will make traditional policies costly for policyholders.
However, the life insurance industry, which was demanding special treatment for increasing investment in insurance policies, is unhappy with the move. "This is not in line with our request for fiscally supporting long-term savings contracts such as life insurance," Sud said.
However, Mr. Ashvin Parekh, head of the global consultancy firm Ernst & Young's, feels that the extension of service tax to services provided by life insurance companies in the areas of investment and health check-up or treatment will not have a substantial impact. The changes will extend comprehensive service tax coverage to all the services provided by life insurers and hospitals for health insurance.
Traditional insurance policies invest at least 65% of the funds in Government Securities and Infrastructure Bonds, and provide fixed benefit to policyholders.
The taxable service which was previously restricted in relation to only "risk cover" in life insurance products has been extended to all services. The burden of service tax on the policyholder is bound to increase and will result in lower returns to the policyholder.
However, under the general insurance service, there is a Service Tax exemption to Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.