Finance Minister Sitharaman promises easier compliance at GST Council meeting

Govt does not intend to send notices to businesses left, right and centre, says Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chairs the GST Council meet on Saturday
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chairs the GST Council meet on Saturday(Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: In her first GST Council meeting after assuming the role of finance minister in the new government, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was in a conciliatory mood as she reiterated that the Central government does not intend to send GST notices to businesses left, right and centre.

“I want to reassure assessees that our intent is to make the GST assessees’ life easier. We are working towards less and less compliances,” she said at the fag end of the press briefing called to announce the decisions made in the 53rd GST Council.

To buttress her point, she underlined that the Central GST department has sent notices to only 1,14,939 assessees, or 1.96% of the total 58.63 lakh active assesses till 31 December 2023. “Our intention is to make it easier and simpler, less cumbersome,” she added.

The same conciliatory tone was reflected in the GST Council decisions as it decided in favour of taxpayers in many ongoing thorny issues, including introducing the sunset clause for anti-profiteering provisions, exemption of GST on corporate guarantees, and reducing the amount of pre-deposit for filing of appeals under GST. The Council also decided to exclude Extra Neutral Alcohol used for manufacture of alcoholic liquor for human consumption under the ambit of GST.

Some of the decisions would directly impact the common man. The Council decided to exempt some services provided by the Railways, such as sale of platform tickets, facility of retiring rooms/waiting rooms, cloak room services and battery-operated car services.

To benefit students living in hostel accommodations outside the premises of educational institutes, the Council decided to exempt accommodation services from GST where the monthly rent per person is up to `20,000. Such benefits would be available subject to the condition that the accommodation is supplied for a minimum continuous period of 90 days.

To deal with fake invoicing, the Council decided to roll out nationwide Aadhaar-based authentication of registered taxpayers in a phased manner.

It also decided to implement a uniform rate of 12% on all milk cans.

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