NEW DELHI: The all-powerful GST Council on Thursday cut tax rate on 29 goods, including second-hand vehicles, confectionery and bio-diesel, while veering around to simplifying return filing for businesses.
Also, tax rate on 54 categories of services, including certain job works, tailoring services and admission to theme parks, have been lowered. The panel at its next meeting may also consider bringing under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) purview items like petroleum and real estate which are currently outside the new regime, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
The council cut GST rate on second-hand medium and large cars and SUVs from 28 per cent to 18 per cent and on other old and used motor vehicles to 12 per cent. Tax on diamonds and precious stones was slashed to 0.25 per cent from current 3 per cent.
While tax rate for bio-diesel was slashed to 12 per cent from 18 per cent, that for public transport buses run on environment-friendly bio-fuels has been reduced to 18 per cent from 28 per cent. Tax on irrigation equipment, sugar boiled confectionery, drinking water packed in 20-litre bottles, fertiliser grade phosphoric acid, tamarind kernel power, mehendi paste in cones, LPG, articles of straw, velvet fabric and rice bran was also cut.
The new rates would be effective from January 25. The council, in its 25th meeting, also discussed process to make return filing simpler with just one return to be filed every month.
Infosys non-executive chairman Nandan Nilekani made a presentation on simplification of the return filing process. The council discussed the possibility of retaining only GSTR- 3B or initial sales return, while mandating sellers to upload their invoices.
Jaitley said the GSTR-3B and invoices can be matched; and in case of difference, businesses can be asked to explain. “It was finally culminating into filing 3B returns and supplier invoice, which would be adequate,” he said, adding that Bihar Dy CM Sushil Modi, GSTN Chairman Ajay Bhusan Pandey and Nilekani would formalise the structure and a decision will be made at the next meeting.
Asked if filing only one return is the way forward, he said “that seems to be the course”.
Businesses at present have to file GSTR-3B as well as GSTR-1, which is the final invoice wise sales returns.
Jaitley said the next meeting may also consider bringing items that are currently in GST within the new tax regime.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled out from July 1, 2017 by subsuming most of the Central and State indirect taxes into a single tax. But, crude oil, natural gas, diesel, petrol and ATF have not been included in the ambit of GST as of now.
Also, real estate was kept out of the GST.
The minister further said that a nation-wide roll out of e-way bill will happen on February 1 for inter-state transportation of goods through roads. Additionally, 15 states have said they will also start off with e-way bill for intra- state movement of goods on the same day.
“Therefore, the trade and transport industry have to comply with,” he said, adding that the e-way bill would act as anti-evasion measure.
In view of declining GST revenues, the Council, chaired by Jaitley and comprising his state counterparts, today reviewed the collections in the new indirect tax regime.
Jaitley said so far the government was relying on unilateral declaration made by the business, and in view of declining collections, there was a need for anti-evasion measure.
“So far it was voluntary compliance without anti-evasion measures. With all anti-evasion measures put in place, the collections will pick up,” he said.
The GST revenue mop-up has been steadily declining over the month as from over Rs 95,000 crore collected in July, it has come down to about Rs 81,000 crore in November.