GST Council Cuts Rates On 23 Items:TVs To Become Cheaper

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NEW DELHI — In a Christmas bonanza to the common man, the GST Council Saturday reduced tax rates on 23 goods and services, including movie tickets, TV and monitor screens and power banks, and exempted frozen and preserved vegetables from the levy.

The reduced rates are likely to come into effect from January 1, 2019, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the 31st meeting of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council here.

Of the 23 goods and services on which rates have been slashed, tax rate on seven items in the 28 per cent slab has been brought down. With this, only 28 goods are left in the highest 28 per cent tax bracket.

The goods on which GST has been lowered to 18 per cent from 28 per cent at present include pulleys, transmission shafts and cranks, gear boxes, retreated or used tyres, power banks of lithium ion batteries, digital cameras, video camera recorders and video game consoles.

The 28 per cent slab is now restricted to only luxury and sin goods apart from auto-parts and cement – the tax rate on which could not be cut due to high revenue implication.

“Rate rationalisation is an ongoing process. When the original rates were fixed, India had the most irrational taxation rates. Most of these items were charged, along with cascading effect, at 31 per cent. So we had only transiently put them at 28 per cent, because if we had immediately brought it down then the revenue impact would have been there and therefore the social expenditure of central and state governments would have suffered.

“So therefore we followed a more realistic pragmatic and a prudent policy that as the revenues move up and affordability increases we gradually bring it down. And therefore 28 per cent bracket is already moving towards a sunset, except the luxury and sin items, 3 items which are used by upper income group and only 1 item of common use remains,” Jaitley said 

Apart from luxury and sin goods, mass use item cement and white goods like air conditioners and dishwashers are left in the 28 per cent slab.

“The next target will be rate rationalisation in cement as and when affordability improves, Jaitley said, adding reducing GST on cement would have cost an annual Rs 13,000 crore to the exchequer.

The annual revenue implication of the rate cuts would be Rs 5,500 crore, he said.

GST on movie tickets costing up to Rs 100 cut to 12 per cent, from 18 per cent, tickets over Rs 100 to attract 18 per cent GST, against 28 per cent earlier. This will have annual revenue implication of Rs 900 crore.

Monitors and TV screens up to 32 inches and power banks will attract 18 per cent GST, as against 28 per cent earlier. The annual revenue loss on account of this would be Rs 1,500 crore.

The rate rationalisation comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday indicated that the 28 per cent slab of GST would only be restricted to a few select items, such as luxury and sin goods and said his government wants to ensure that ’99 per cent items attract 18 per cent or lower GST.

The other items which will now attract 18 per cent tax include pulleys, transmission shafts and cranks, gear boxes, retreated or used tyres, power banks of lithium ion batteries, digital cameras, video camera recorders and video game consoles. These items currently attract 28 per cent rate.

The GST Council has also decided to slash tax rate on parts and accessories for the carriages for disabled persons from 28 per cent to 5 per cent. Also third party insurance premium of goods carrying vehicles has been reduced from 18 per cent to 12 per cent.

The other items will attract lower GST rate of 5 per cent include marble rubble, natural cork, walking stick, fly ash blocks.

Music books and vegetables (uncooked or cooked by steaming or boiling in water), frozen, branded and put in an unit container and vegetables provisionally preserved but unsuitable in that state for immediate consumption have been exempted from GST.

Services supplied by banks to Basic Savings Bank Deposit account holders under the Jan Dhan Yojana will not attract GST.

Air travel of pilgrims by non-scheduled/charter operations being facilitated by the government under bilateral arrangements will attract a lower GST rate of 5 per cent.

The Council has decided that 5 per cent would be levied on renewable energy devices and parts for their manufacture.

When asked about his message to the industry to pass on the rate cut benefits, Jaitley said, “There is already anti-profiteering authority, which has been more than active. Of course, they have to pass on the rate benefits. Or we will do what we did in case of restaurants”.

Jaitley further said that the Council has decided that businesses which are supposed to pay GST and file returns but have not done so far, should file it by March 31, 2019, to avoid penalty.

Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that the new return filing system will be launched on trial basis from April 2019 and would be made mandatory from July 1, 2019.

The GST Council has also decided to set up a centralised Authority for Advance Ruling to hear those cases in which two divergent verdicts have been passed by AARs of two different states.

GST rate cut move towards 2-3 tax slabs structure: industry

GST rate cuts for commonly used products across all tax slabs will provide a much-awaited relief and shows the GST Council’s intention to move towards just 2-3 tax bracket structure, industry said Saturday.

“… reduction in tax rates for commonly used products across all tax slabs shows the Council’s intention to move towards just 2-3 slab rate structure. Procedural simplifications by the GST Council are significant and will ensure that rulings will be uniform across states, thus reducing litigation,” CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said.

Banerjee said the Council has made welcome improvements for ease of doing business such as adoption of single cash ledger for each tax and single authority for disbursement of refund amount to be implemented on pilot basis.

Traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) also welcomed the reduction in GST tax rates on various items and said it is a progressive step in rationalising and simplifying the tax structure.

CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that reduction in GST tax rates will on one side lower the cost of production of large number of items and on the other hand will make consumers more comfortable.

Khandelwal said that lowering of tax rates on construction items will further lower the cost of construction.

“It would have been better if tax rates of cement is also reduced as cement constitute a major component of construction cost. Announcing the formation of a composition scheme for small service suppliers is a good policy decision as it will relive the small suppliers from the clutches of tax complications,” he said.

Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd Managing Director and CEO and President Cement Manufacturers Association Mahendra Singhi said: “The Finance Minister’s hint that a further rationalisation could be expected in the coming months should the state of the economy improve, collection of taxes improve, keeps us encouraged.

“Recognising cement as a general public consumer product by the FM and reviewing it again in next meeting is keeping hopes live. A rationalised GST rate would definitely result into higher number of houses, more km of roads and better infrastructure at the same cost”.

CAIT said traders keenly await the new return filing system which is to be implemented from April 1, 2019, and hope that return will be required to be filed once in three months.

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