The goods and services tax (GST) Council may further prune tax rates on more goods under the new indirect tax regime depending on revenue buoyancy, according to Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Talking to reporters here on Tuesday, Sarma, the chief of the group of ministers (GoM) that had recommended the recent revision of tax slabs, said: “Pruning of rates (on goods) is a continuous process, but it has to be seen in terms of revenue buoyancy. As of when, a higher revenue growth or buoyancy is established, there is a scope of pruning of rates.” He clarified that it was not that all the items from the 28% tax bracket could come down as there were many luxury goods in that bracket and from there the government ensured revenues. “But pruning is still possible,” he said.
According to him, the deliberation on tax rates relating to handicrafts, handloom and inclusion of real estate in the new indirect tax regime, would be taken up at the council’s next meeting, scheduled for January-end next year. “In the next GST Council meeting, there will be deliberation on handloom and handicraft and even on real estate,” he said on the sidelines of the inauguration of a manufacturing facility of Emami here, about 25 km from Guwahati.
Asked whether the council would reduce the number of tax slabs in the GST, he said, “We do not see any reason why it should come down. Hundreds of taxes were handled just before five months…now four-rate structure itself is a big thing.” On inclusion of real estate, Sarma said an approach paper was already tabled at the recent meeting in Guwahati. “But it could not be taken up for discussion,” he said. Issues such as architecture, surrender of stamp duties and multiplicity of taxes (across states) had to be discussed, he added.