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In a major relief to consumers and industry, the Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council on Friday decided to lower the rates for 177 items in the highest tax slab of 28 per cent.
In the first half of the meeting taking place in Guwahati, the Council decided to trim the 28 per cent slab to just 50 items, as against 227 items currently. High-end items, including automobiles, washing machine, refrigerator, sin goods like paan masala and cigar are among these 50 items. This is the biggest reduction seen since the GST implementation on July 1.
"We decided to also look into the remaining 62 items and see if there is a scope for reducing rates on those items as well," said a state government official.
The Council decided to go beyond the recommendation of the fitment committee to thin the 28 per cent slab to 62 items and decided to additionally lower the rates for 12 more items.
Shaving cream, beauty products, chocolates, chewing gum, marble and granite are among the additional 12 items for reduction to 18 per cent, beyond the fitment committee recommendation.
"We identified 12 more items, which will now be reduced to 18 per cent," said a government official who did not wish to be named.
"All decisions have been taken unanimously by the GST Council. Elections have nothing to do with decisions to be taken by the Council," said Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu.
The second half of the meeting will see discussions on easing the compliance burden on taxpayers and making the composition scheme more attractive.
There will also be a presentation on the inclusion of real estate in GST.
The Council may allow quarterly return filing for all taxpayers with a monthly tax payment. This proposal is there in the report of the group of ministers (GoM), led by Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Besides, the composition scheme, which allows a flat rate of tax and easier compliance, may be eased further. The Council may increase the threshold for eligibility to an annual turnover of Rs 1.5-2 crore from Rs 1 crore now. The move will require an amendment to the GST law.
A flat one per cent rate for manufacturers and restaurants will be considered, against the current rates of two per cent and five per cent, respectively. For traders, a lower rate of 0.5 per cent in the case of a cumulative turnover of exempted and non-exempted goods, and one per cent for non-exempted goods may be allowed. Allowing interstate sales under the composition scheme will also be taken up.
Additionally, a reduction in late filing fees to Rs 50 per day, against Rs 200 at present may also be considered.