GST Council meeting underway: Tax rate cut, simplification of return filing; here’s what to expect

By: | Updated: January 18, 2018 5:04 PM

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will hold its 25th meeting in New Delhi today, nearly 10 days ahead of the Budget 2018 and is likely to take decisions of key issues, besides brainstorming on the Union Budget 2018.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will hold its 25th meeting in New Delhi today ahead of Union Budget 2018. (Image: PTI)

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will hold its 25th meeting in New Delhi today, nearly 10 days ahead of the Budget 2018 and is likely to take decisions of key issues, besides brainstorming on the Union Budget 2018. Inclusion of real estate under the new tax regime, tax rate cut on 70 more items and simplification of filing of returns likely be on priority.

The Council, comprising of states’ finance ministers, will give its nod for GST law amendments which could be taken up for consideration and passage in the Budget session starting January 29, PTI quoted unidentified sources said. Among other things, the Council will review the preparedness of GST Network (GSTN) in handling the return filing process as well as for implementing the e-way bill system with effect from February 1.

The GST Council, which last time met on December 16, approved mandatory compliance of the e-Way Bill for the inter-state movement from February 1 to curb tax evasion, the trial run for which started on Monday.

Here’s what to expect from the 25th GST Council meeting:

Another round of rate cut:

The GST Council may cut tax rates on as a many as 70 items and offer simpler GST returns filing. Of these 70 items, 40 is likely to be various services. The GST Council is also likely to cut rates on agriculture-related products, media reports said.

Real estate under GST:

According to ANI, discussion on the inclusion of real estate under the GST is one of the key agendas of the Council. Stamp duty on a property before registration might come under the ambit of the GST. While the GST Council is likely to discuss the proposal, it may take more time to bring real estate under the new indirect tax regime.

Simplification of returns filing:

Besides, the Council is also likely to discuss single-stage return filing process, instead of the current three-stage mechanism. The move is likely to help services providers who are operating from different cities and states. Some reports also suggest that the three GST Returns form — GSTR-1, GSTR-2, GSTR-3 — may be consolidated as one.

A case for natural gas and jet fuel:

The GST Council may also discuss bringing natural gas and jet fuel under the GST, while the chances of bringing, petrol, diesel and electricity are thin. Both aviation ministry and petroleum and oil ministry have made a strong case for bringing ATF and natural gas under the GST.

The Council meeting comes against the backdrop of lower GST collections and higher than the Budgeted fiscal deficit. GST collections slipped for the second straight month to Rs 80,808 crore in November, down from over Rs 83,000 crore in the previous month. The collections fell after the Council cut rates on as many as 178 items.

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