Ahead of the Union Budget 2018, the last full Budget of the present NDA government, the GST Council on Thursday will hold a crucial meeting in which they may cut tax rates on as a many as 70 items and offer simpler GST returns filing. Of these 70 items, 40 is likely to be various services. The GST Council is also expected to slash rates on agriculture-related products, media reports said.
The Goods and Services Tax Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is likely to take crucial decisions as the Union Budget 2018 is just 15 days away. The tax rate fitment committee has reportedly suggested these changes. The 25th GST Council meeting comes against the backdrop of lower GST collections and higher than the Budgeted fiscal deficit. GST collections slipped for the second straight month to Rs 80,808 crore in November, down from over Rs 83,000 crore in the previous month. The collections dropped after the Council cut rates on as many as 178 items.
According to a Times of India report, a panel is considering a single-stage return filing process, instead of the current three-stage mechanism. The move is likely to help services providers who are opertaing from different cities and states.
“The committee is looking at 12 filings a year instead of many more at present,” a source told the newspaper, adding that staggered filing dates with bigger businesses having to adhere to earlier deadlines were also being examined. Although basic codes such as invoice matching—to plug revenue outflow —will be retained, the move will ensure taxpayers are not hobbled by the filing mechanism.
Some reports also suggest that the three GST Returns form — GSTR-1, GSTR-2, GSTR-3 — may be consolidated as one. The GST Council last time met on December 16, when it accepted compulsory compliance of the e-Way Bill for the inter-state movement from February 1 to curb tax evasion.
The GST Council may also discuss bringing natural gas and jet fuel under the GST, while the chances of bringing, petrol, diesel and electricity are thin. Both aviation ministry and petroleum and oil ministry have conjointly settled over for bringing ATF and natural gas under the GST.