Finally, sanitary napkins to be exempted from GST

India huge relief for girls as officials scrap tax on sanitary pads

28th meeting of the GST Council begins in New Delhi.

"Out of the 49 items now taxed at the highest rate of 28%, rates on 17 have been reduced to 18%", Pratik Jain, partner & leader, indirect tax, PwC, said in a note. The new rates will kick off from July 26. Every state wanted that the rates on these items be lowered for the benefit of middle-income households... Finance Minister Piyush Goyal will chair the 28th meeting of the Council.

Among items on which GST was reduced include footwear, small televisions, water heater, electric ironing machines, refrigerators, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, food appliances and ethanol. The minister said tax on bamboo had been slashed to 12 per cent. The hope was that a packet of 10 sanitary pads that costs roughly Rs 100 would cost Rs 88 without GST. Earlier, sanitary napkins were taxed at 12% which had attracted a lot of criticism. "Money in the hands of all sections of society- the poor, households, women, farmers and senior citizens", Goyal tweeted late night. If separate returns are to be filed then it will complicate matters for businessmen in both B2B and B2C businesses, he said. Foreign manufacturers, however, would not be subject to input taxes and will also not have to pay any GST, putting them at a massive advantage.

Tax filers with an annual turnover of less than Rs. 5 crore a year need to file returns on a quarterly basis while paying tax on a monthly basis.

"Today's meeting has taken a number of decisions unanimously".

Asked about the revenue impact of the tax rate cut, Goyal said it will only be "nominal".

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Goyal asserted on the importance of reducing the tax on ethanol, as not only is it used for blending with petrol and diesel, it is also vital for the sugar industry, and will thus be very beneficial for the sugarcane farmers.

In a big relief to hotels, 28 per cent GST won't apply if the actual money collected is less than Rs 7,500 regardless of the published tariff. Between Rs 2,500 to below Rs 7,500 GST is levied at 18 per cent and that of Rs 1,000 and below Rs 2,500 it is 12 per cent.

"The GST Council cuts tax rates on an array of products".

Chartered Accountant Nitesh Jain summarised Saturday's announcements by the Council as efforts to simplify the system, remove as many items from the tax slab of 28 per cent and ease compliance. It has suspended the reverse charge mechanism, meant to track small businesses outside the GST net, till September next year. The RCM, which was already on hold till September 2018, is considered as an anti-evasion tool.

A Committee led by Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi will look into ways to promote digital payments using these modes. The case to lower GST on air-conditioners is also compelling.

This will reduce harassment of transporters, he said. Around 90 consumer items, many of them popular with urban middle-class voters, will be impacted by the tax cut.

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