GST Council meet begins; decriminalisation, gutkha biz tax on agenda

Decriminalisation of offences under the GST law, setting up appellate tribunals and mechanism to curb tax evasion in pan masala and gutkha businesses are among the issues slated to be discussed in the GST Council meeting which began on Saturday morning.

Besides, GST on online gaming and casinos may come up for deliberations at the Council meeting. The Group of Ministers (GoM), chaired by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, set up last year on the issue had submitted its report to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday.

The Council would also consider a report of tax officers and give clarity on the rate applicability in certain goods and services.

“Union Finance Minister Smt. @nsitharaman chairs the 48th meeting of the GST Council via virtual mode, in New Delhi, today,” the finance ministry tweeted.

With regard to decriminalisation of offences, the law committee of the GST Council, comprising tax officers from the Centre and states, has suggested to the Council to increase the monetary threshold for launching prosecution for GST offences.

The law committee has also suggested that the fee payable by taxpayer for compounding of GST offences be lowered to 25 per cent of the tax amount, from up to 150 per cent currently, with a view to improving ease of doing business.

It has suggested raising the threshold of launching prosecution to Rs 20 crore, from Rs 5 crore at present. Launching of prosecution by taxmen means commencement of legal proceedings against the offender.

The report of the GoM on tax evasion by pan masala and gutkha companies is likely to be taken up for discussion in the Council, sources said.

With regard to setting up of Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunals (GSTATs), the GoM has suggested that the tribunals should consist of two judicial members, and one technical member each from the Centre and states, besides a retired Supreme Court judge as President, sources said.

The GoM on GSTATs was set up in July under the chairmanship of Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala.

With regard to taxation of online gaming, casinos and horse racing, the GoM, in its last meeting in November, had agreed on a 28 per cent GST on these segments.

However, in absence of consensus on whether the tax should be levied on only the fees charged by the portal or the entire consideration, including the bet amount, received from participants, the GoM had decided to refer all suggestions to the GST Council for a final decision.

Currently, online gaming attracts 18 per cent GST. The tax is levied on gross gaming revenue, which is the fees charged by online gaming portals.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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