Giving a clear roadmap for its implementation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was on track and July 1 was going to be the likely rollout date of the new indirect tax regime.
“It (GST) looks on track. Subject to Parliament approval, it looks like the possible date of implementation of GST is July 1,” Jaitley said after the 11th GST Council meet concluded here.
The Council approved the central cGST (cGST) and integrated GST (iGST) draft laws on Saturday.
“Consensus on cGST, iGST law. Both the final draft laws were discussed today. Council has approved both the drafts,” Jaitley said.
With the compensation draft law having already been approved in the Council’s previous meeting — held on February 18 in Udaipur — there are two more draft laws remaining for approval.
The Union Territory GST (UTGST) and state GST (sGST) draft laws will be taken up for discussion and approval at the Council’s next meeting on March 16, Jaitley told reporters at a press briefing.
The sGST and UTGST are replica of cGST and the settlement of their drafts is only a formality, he said.
“Once these are approved, the four laws – compensation, UTGST, cGST and iGST – will be approved by Cabinet and placed in Parliament in the coming session,” Jaitley added.
Meanwhile, the sGST draft law will have to be approved by the legislative assemblies of states and union territories (Delhi, Puducherry).
The UTGST draft law is for the union territories like Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, which do not have legislative assemblies.
With the approval of the five draft laws, the legislative action of the GST Council will be over, post which there will be another meeting for fitment of the goods and services in the tax slabs – 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent, 28 per cent.
Clearing the air on reports of GST tax rate being increased up to 40 per cent, he said there would not be higher rate of taxation.
“The four rates have already been decided by the Council. There will be no higher rate of taxation, but the capped rate is always higher to leave some space. Bound rate and applied rate is different,” Jaitley said.
The Council has approved raising the cGST, sGST peak tax rate from 14 per cent to 20 per cent each, amounting to a peak rate of 40 per cent.
Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, who was also present at the briefing, told reporters, “The slabs are already decided and there is no change in slabs. But to provide the maximum ceiling, the Council felt the need to leave some scope for higher GST for after five years, when compensation to states is not required and cess is likely to be merged with GST rate.”
Some of the main features of GST:
— A state-wise single registration for a taxpayer for filing returns, paying taxes,and to fulfil other compliance requirements. Most of the compliance requirements would be fulfilled online, thus leaving very little room for physical interface between the taxpayer and the tax official.
— A taxpayer has to file one single return state-wise to report all his supplies, whether made within or outside the state or exported out of the country and pay the applicable taxes on them.
— A business entity with an annual turnover of up to Rs 20 lakh would not be required to take registration in the GST regime, unless he voluntarily chooses to do so to be a part of the input tax credit chain. The annual turnover threshold in the special category states (such as Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and the other states of the north-east) for not taking registration is Rs 10 lakh.
— A business entity with turnover up to Rs 50 lakh can avail the benefit of a composition scheme under which it has to pay a much lower rate of tax and has to fulfil very minimal compliance requirements. The composition scheme is available for all traders, select manufacturing sectors and for restaurants in the services sector.
— In order to prevent cascading of taxes, input tax credit would be admissible on all goods and services used in the course or furtherance of business, except on a few items listed in the Law.
— In order to ensure a single administrative interface for taxpayers, a provision has been made to authorise officers of the tax administrations of the Centre and the states to exercise the powers conferred under all Acts.
— An agriculturist, to the extent of supply of produce out of cultivation of land, would not be liable to take registration in the GST regime.
— An anti-profiteering provision has been incorporated to ensure that the reduction of tax incidence is passed on to the consumers.
— In order to mitigate any financial hardship being suffered by a taxpayer, Commissioner has been empowered to allow payment of taxes in instalments.