GST Council reduces tax rates on 27 items

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With small businesses and traders complaining about the compliance burden the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime has put on them, the Council chose to give more businesses the option to avail of the Composition Scheme by raising the turnover limit to Rs 1 crore.

The council reduced tax rates on 27 items of mass consumption, gave relief from filing monthly tax returns to small and medium businesses and nearly exempted exporters from paying tax till March 2018.

Further, a group of ministers under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were reportedly earlier in the month summoned to look into the issues faced by businesses while filing returns and paying taxes on the GSTN portal.

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Businesses with a turnover of up to Rs 1.5 crore were allowed to file quarterly tax returns as against monthly filings at present. The government also announced quarterly filing of returns for businesses with annual turnover up to Rs1.5 crore. "We have given 15 days' time to the government to make amendments in the GST Act failing which we will intensify our struggle", said Thukral.

Tax on stones used for flooring (non-marble and granite), diesel engine parts, pump parts and stationery items has been reduced to 18 per cent from 28 per cent. The Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST), which is imposed on the items consumed by the State from another State, is yet to be added in the State kitty.

Currently, food served at restaurants attracts tax at two rates - 12% and 18% - under GST, depending on whether it serves liquor or whether it is an AC restaurant.

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Moreover, exporters will continue to get the pre-GST exemptions under the Advance Authorisation and EPCG schemes while importing goods for the goal of exports.

India Inc today welcomed the outcome of the GST Council meet and said the decisions will improve compliance and provide much needed relief to the taxpayers. This was creating an additional tax burden on the large entities. In the simplest of terms, the Composition Scheme is a "less paperwork" initiative that offers an option to small businesses to opt to pay a fixed percentage of turnover as fees/levy instead of tax and get relief from complicated tax compliance procedures. Service-providers then may deposit GST only on services where GST might not have been deposited by those availing service.

Similarly, the GST rate for job work services provided by Zari workers, imitation jewellery, printing and food items has been cut to 5 per cent. GST rate has also been brought down for Gujarati dishes like khakhra. Suppliers of services other than manufacturer of ice cream, pan masala, or tobacco; casual taxable people or a non-resident taxable person; restaurant related services; and businesses which supply goods through an e-commerce operators can not get into this category. It has now been chose to exempt those service providers whose annual aggregate turnover is less than Rs 20 lakh from obtaining registration even if they are making inter-state taxable supplies of services.

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