GST council to meet on Oct 24; rates of 60 items likely to be cut

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The all-powerful GST Council headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is likely to discuss reducing rates of close to 60 items in its next meeting on October 24 in New Delhi.

“Around 100 items was there in the Council meeting’s agenda on Saturday. Only 40 items could be taken up for discussion as we were running out of time. Remaining items will be considered in the next meeting on October 24,” a senior government official told Moneycontrol.

“Most of the remaining items are demands of individual states now,” the official said.

After brainstorming for more than eight hours, the goods and services tax (GST) Council –a body comprising state finance ministers and senior government officials—on Saturday took several crucial decisions that had affected taxpayers since the implementation of the new indirect tax system.

The Council, which met in Hyderabad, extended the deadline for filing the first set of returns, a move that will benefit millions of traders who have been struggling to upload invoices in the new tax system’s portal. Apart from discussing the liquidity crunch that the states are going through, the team also discussed the way out for technical glitches on the tax return filing portal GST Network (GSTN).

The Council also decided to constitute a group of ministers (GoM) that would look into the problems traders and taxpayers while using the GSTN portal, the information technology (I-T) backbone of the new tax system.

GSTN is a portal-driven IT backbone created to enable real-time taxpayer registration, filing returns, handle invoices, execute inter-state tax settlements, and connect states for two-way data flow.

Along with these decisions, GST rates of 40 items were brought down keeping in mind the changing time and needs for these products, which included goods such as tamarind, roasted gram, custard powder, dhoop, agarbatti, raincoats and rubber band.

“These (the rates) were in some higher category. In some cases the rates have been brought down to from 28 to 18 percent, in some cases from 18 to 12 percent and in some cases from 12 to five percent,” Jaitley had said. “Reduction in rates were required,” he had said.

According to another official, the government is mulling rate revision for items that fall in the highest tax bracket of 28 percent. “A decision towards this is yet to be taken as it would require Council’s approval,” the official said.

GST has four broad slab structure – 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent – along with a cess on luxury and demerit goods such as tobacco, pan masala and aerated drinks. The states would receive provisional compensation from Centre for loss of revenue due to abolition of taxes such as VAT (value added tax), octroi and implementation of new tax system. The compensation would be met through levy of a ‘GST Compensation Cess’ on luxury items and sin goods like tobacco, for the first five years.

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