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GST Council to consider more pleas for tax relief after 1 July

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-06-2017 Gireesh Chandra Prasad

New Delhi: The goods and services tax (GST) Council will consider more requests for relief on GST rates and compliance requirement from businesses and traders after the rollout of the nation’s biggest indirect tax reform on 1 July.

The council’s readiness to consider further requests for relief comes in the wake of protests being staged by textile traders, road builders, furniture makers and diamond merchants over the applicable tax rates and the compliance requirement. The council had on 11 June lowered GST rates on 66 items and widened the scope of a concessional tax payment scheme for small businesses and restaurants.

The council, which is to meet on 30 June, is unlikely to alter tax rates or other structural features of GST before the midnight rollout of the tax reform, but a GST implementation committee (GIC) led by revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia has been set up to tackle emergencies, a person privy to the discussions in the council said on condition of anonymity. While the council members are open to looking into the merits of requests for concessions, they do not want last minute changes which affect the preparedness of taxpayers.

GIC, which has officials from central and state governments, and the council will take decisions in case of an emergency and will subsequently place them before the council for ratification. Monday’s decision to defer enforcing the provisions for collecting tax at source by e-commerce firms from payments to be made to merchants using these platforms is one such decision. This, the person said, will be placed before the council at its Friday meeting.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday at a briefing on Union cabinet decisions that the council always worked with an open mind. “The Council has set up its own processes (for considering representations on merits). It has always shown openness,” the minister said.

Central and state governments are now in the process of notifying the tax rates already finalized in previous meetings of the council.

Jammu & Kashmir remains the only state that has not put in place a legislative framework for rolling out GST. Jaitley said the J&K government is trying to get the GST Bill approved by state legislature by consensus. The minister said that the tax reform is in the interest of consumers and traders.

If GST is not implemented in a state, businesses there will have to first pay tax on raw materials and then tax on final products without getting tax credits on the taxes paid, which will drive up prices, explained the minister.

Komal Gupta contributed to this story.

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