India's interim finance minister, Piyush Goyal, said today: 'I am sure all mothers and sisters will be very happy to hear that sanitary pads are now 100 percent exempt from tax'. Jaitley, and the press release, made the following argument: Before GST, sanitary napkins were effectively taxed at more than 13%, and they had been brought down to 12% under GST.
Over the last one year, the Council, chaired by Union Finance Minister and comprising state ministers, has slashed rates in 191 items. It is expected that the council will also decide on the revision of tax rates on vending machines and lithium-ion batteries among others. "By imposing 12% GST on sanitary napkins, the government has tried to make a mockery of women", said Pooja Singh, Secretary of the NGO.
A high GST rate on sanitary napkins imposed a year ago had triggered howls of protest from consumer activist groups. The revised tax rates will come into effect from July 27.
Amar Tulsiyan, founder of Niine Movement, called Saturday's decision "a big win for everyone" in India, where, he said, 82 percent women and girls have no access to sanitary pads.
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The Council has also approved quarterly filing of return for the small taxpayers having turnover below Rs 5 crore. 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.
However, the tax cut will lead to higher sales which could offset revenue losses, Mani added.
Sources, however, said the tax rate reduction is likely to cost around Rs 8,000-10,000 crore annually to the exchequer.
This quarterly filing provision would exclude small traders making only a B2C supply, and those making a "B2B + B2C" supply.
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While hotels with tariff below Rs 1,000 are exempted from GST, those with tariff between Rs 1,000-2,500 are taxed at 12 per cent, those between Rs 2,500-7,500 at 18 per cent, and above Rs 7,500 at 28 per cent. Those yet to register under GST will be given extension till August 31 without late penalty.
The Finance Minister said, there will be minimal impact of these decisions on revenue collections.
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. The next meeting of the Council is slated on August 4, which will discuss issues relating to the MSME sector as well as ways to incentivise digital transaction via Rupay cards and BHIM app. Around 90 consumer items, many of them popular with urban middle-class voters, will be impacted by the tax cut.
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