Revenue from commercial taxes in Tamil Nadu has zoomed 20% in 2018-19 compared to the previous year. Incidentally, 2018-19 was the first full year of GST implementation. The department’s total revenue, Rs 73,148 crore in 2017-18, increased to Rs 87,905 crore in a year. The revenue increase is also the highest in the past five financial years. Sources in the department said the hike is due to better performance in GST collection and an increase in revenue from sales of fuel and liquor. Though GST collection has increased considerably, the main source of revenue continues to be from excise and VAT on liquor and VAT on fuel. Of the Rs 87,905 crore earned, Rs 42,415 crore is from non-GST sources. Commercial taxes minister K C Veeramani said the finance minister had been pushing his department for 20% increase in tax revenue year-on-year. The department was able to achieve it last year, he said. Reforms introduced in the department had helped improve tax collection, he said. The increase is also due to the increase in the GST net. “Tamil Nadu has a total of 9.66 lakh taxpayers registered under GST as on March 31, 2019. This is against the 7.45 lakh registered in the previous year. The registrations are done online and there is no trader-officer interface. Payment of GST is only through online and this also reduces any fraud,” a senior commercial tax department official told TOI.
“Despite the economic turmoil, the commercial department has achieved a record increase in tax revenue. This revenue increase includes GST compensation as well as IGST settlement.” DMK members Mohideen Khan and K C Sekar raised several lacunae during the debate on demands for grants for the department. “Bread is exempted from GST but rusk is taxed. Similarly, chocolates, biscuits, etc., are taxed at the same rate whether it is made by big brands or by small village-level manufacturers. The GST is different on the fried gram and roasted gram. All these discrepancies must be cleared so that cottage level industries thrive,” said Khan Sekar wanted to know why registrations were dropping. “While the number of registrations has come down, the revenue from this source alone has increased. The government must clarify,” said Sekar. Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said the increase in revenue in stamp duty and registration, despite drop in the number of registrations, was due to the increase in the value of the property. Fisheries minister D Jayakumar, who represents the state in the GST council meeting, promised to raise the lacunae in the GST rates during the next meeting of the council.