Charitable trusts selling books, CDs have to pay GST

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The Appellate Authority for Advance Ruling (AAAR) for GST has upheld that a charitable trust whose main objective is the advancement of religion, spirituality or yoga can be said to be in businesses, and so fall under the purview of GST. Also, the sale of spiritual products by such institutions attract GST. Mumbai-based Shrimad Adhyatmik Satsang Sadhna Kendra, a public charitable and religious trust, advances the teachings of Paramkrupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra and spreads knowledge on Jainism. It holds satsangsshibirs etc and publishes religious books, audio CDs, DVDs, etc. Though it has been a registered body, before and after the introduction of GST, it has not filed any return. 

Last year, the trust approached the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR) in Maharashtra asking if the trust can be said to be in business so as to attract GST; whether sales of spiritual products incidental/ancillary to the main charitable objective can be said to be ‘business’; and whether the sale of spiritual products can be said to be ‘supply’, attracting GST. The ruling replied in affirmative to all the queries and the trust appealed against the ruling. The AAAR said though the appellant is a public charitable trust by name, trade and commerce activities form a major part of its objective. The GST law aims to tax all activities of supply of goods and services by trusts except ones specifically exempted, it added.

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