Government rules out a single rate for all items under GST

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New Delhi, Jan 2 :  The new indirect tax regime of GST does not envisage a single slab taxation rate structure as found in some developed economies, Parliament was informed on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha during Question Hour that countries which had applied a uniform tax rate on all commodities are nations where the entire population was above the poverty line.

“In India, food items have been placed in the zero or minimum slab, while luxury items get taxed more,” he said.

The Finance Minister, however, said the process of rationalising the rates of items within the four-slab rate structure of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would continue.

The new indirect tax regime unifying the Indian market has four tax slabs of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent.

In November, the supreme federal institution of the GST Council undertook a radical reworking of the items within the tax structure whereby only 50 of over 1,200 items remained in the highest 28 per cent bracket. Those retained included luxury and sin items, the cess on which goes to fund the compensation to states for the loss of revenue arising from implementing GST.

Jaitley also told the Rajya Sabha that the GST council had formed a committee under the convenorship GST Network Chairman A.B. Pandey to look into issues relating to filing returns and suggest a simpler mechanism to ease the compliance burden for assessees.

“The committee shall recommend changes to be made in the process of filing of returns in GST, including the threshold, if any, for quarterly filing,” he said.