GST Council defers GoMs reports on appellate tribunal, capacity-based tax

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has deferred two key state panel reports on setting up the framework of the appellate tribunal and capacity-based taxation on pan-masala and gutka as it concludes its 48th Council meeting in New Delhi. The all-powerful Council chaired by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman couldn’t take up seven prominent issues including these two panel reports due to paucity of time.

A group of ministers (GoM) led by Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala has submitted its report on setting up an appellate tribunal proposing that each Bench should consist of a president, two judicial members, one technical member (Centre) and another technical member (state). While another ministerial panel led by Odisha finance minister Niranjan Pujari on capacity-based taxation for evasion-prone commodities like pan-masala and gutkha recommended specific tax-based levy, which is to be linked to their retail prices.

The much-awaited state’s panel report on taxing online gaming was not included in the Council’s agenda as it was submitted just two days before the meeting.

The Council, however, has taken up the GST rate conundrum on various categories of goods and services, including cases where reduced rates will apply. One of those on Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) where it clarified that these vehicles are subject to a 22 per cent compensation cess if they fulfil four conditions. Though whether Multi-Utility Vehicles (MUVs) will be treated the same the fitment panel has to examine and suggest to the Council in the next meeting.

“The higher rate of compensation cess of 22 per cent is applicable to motor vehicles fulfilling all four conditions, namely, it is popularly known as SUV, has engine capacity exceeding 1500 cc, length exceeding 4000 mm and a ground clearance of 170 mm or above,” Council said. Several states have sought clarity on the cess applicable to such vehicles citing ambiguity and interpretation issues.

“We completed eight of the agenda points. There were two GoMs issues which needed to be discussed but couldn’t be taken up, which were related to capacity-based taxation on tobacco and gutkha, the other relating to setting up of a (GST) tribunal,” Finance Minister said during media interaction post the meeting.

She emphasised that there hasn’t been any tax increase on any item. “No new taxation has been brought in. Everything that has been done is to issue clarifications where the ambiguity of interpretations prevailed,” she said.

Among other approved agendas, the Council has given a green signal to the decriminalisation of certain offences under the GST regime including doubling the threshold for launching prosecution to Rs 2 crore from the current Rs 1 crore. But, matters related to fake invoices have been kept out of the new monetary threshold.

“Three kinds of offences have been recommended to be decriminalised. They pertain to obstruction or preventing any officer in the discharge of his duties, deliberate tampering of material evidence and failure to supply the information,” Revenue Secretary Sanjay Malhotra said while elaborating on the Council’s decision.

The Council also approved data sharing with other agencies to widen the taxpayer’s base. This will include the use of data from other agencies, data exchanges from power distribution companies, PAN-based links, property tax data and so on, said CBIC chairman Vivek Jahuri.

Besides, on industry demand, the Council approved the recommendation of exempting husk of pulses, including chilka and concentrates from 5 per cent to nil. It was also decided to include the supply of Mentha arvensis under the reverse charge mechanism as has been done for Mentha Oil. Ethyl alcohol supplied to refineries for blending with motor spirit (petrol) has also been reduced to 5 per cent from the current 18 per cent.

Other agendas including allowing unregistered suppliers and composition taxpayers to make the intra-state supply of goods through E-Commerce Operators (ECOs) have been approved subject to certain conditions. It also clarified that no claim bonuses are being charged under GST.

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