GST Council exempts certain railway services from GST, approves measures to ease compliance

New Delhi, June 22 (UNI) Providing relief to smaller firms and taxpayers, the all-powerful GST Council on Saturday decided to exempt certain services provided by Indian Railways, reduce the quantum of pre-deposit required to be paid for filing appeals under GST, and fix monetary limits for filing appeals in order to substantially cut litigation.

The GST Council also clarified on a number of procedural issues to ease the compliance burden on taxpayers.

“The GST Council, in its meeting on Saturday, has taken a lot of decisions on trade facilitation, easing compliance burdens, and giving relief to taxpayers in terms of compliance,” Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a media briefing after the 53rd GST Council meeting held here.

The Minister, who also heads the GST Council, said that while there were a lot of issues on which the Fitment Committee and the Legal Committee had worked and readied quite a few agenda points, all of them could not be taken up for lack of time.

She said that the remaining agenda items would be taken up in the next meeting, which could be scheduled in August this year following the presentation of the Union Budget in Parliament.

Sitharaman noted that the decisions taken by the GST Council today would benefit traders, MSMEs, and taxpayers.

Significantly, the GST Council recommended exempting the services provided by Indian Railways to the general public, namely the sale of platform tickets, the facility of retiring rooms or waiting rooms, cloak room services, and battery-operated car services.

The Council also recommended certain exemptions related to accommodation services, providing relief to students and working professionals.

Among changes in GST rates on goods, the Council decided to reduce the tax rate on ‘carton, boxes, and cases of both corrugated and non-corrugated paper or paper-board’ from 18% to 12%. Further, all milk cans (of steel, iron and aluminium) irrespective of their use, will attract 12% GST. All solar cookers, whether single or dual energy sources, will attract 12% GST.

The GST Council recommended waiving interest and penalties for demand notices issued under Section 73 of the CGST Act (i.e. the cases not involving fraud, suppression or willful misstatement, etc.) for the fiscal years 2017–18, 2018–19, and 2019–20 if the full tax demanded is paid up to March 31, 2025.

It is also recommended that the time limit to avail input tax credit with respect to any invoice or debit note under Section 16(4) of the CGST Act, through any GSTR 3B return filed up to November 30, 2021 for FY 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21, may be deemed to be November 30, 2021.

The Council recommended to prescribe monetary limits, subject to certain exclusions, for filing of appeals in GST by the department before GST Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT), High Court, and Supreme Court, to reduce government litigation. Accordingly, the monetary limit in case of GSTAT has been set at Rs 20 lakhs.

In case of the High Court and Supreme Court, the monetary limits have been prescribed at Rs 1 crore and Rs 2 crore, respectively.

In another key decision, the GST Council recommended to roll-out the biometric-based Aadhaar authentication of registration applicants on pan-India basis in a phased manner.

“This will strengthen the registration process in GST and will help in combating fraudulent input tax credit (ITC) claims made through fake invoices,” an official statement said.

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