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GST collection of states, union territories increased to Rs 5.18 lakh crore in FY19, says Nirmala Sitharaman

GST collection of states, union territories increased to Rs 5.18 lakh crore in FY19, says Nirmala Sitharaman

GST collection of states and union territories increased to Rs 5.18 lakh crore in the financial year 2018-19, a significant rise from Rs 2.91 lakh crore in 2017-18, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Parliament on Monday. In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, the Finance Minister said the Centre government released Rs 81,177 crore compensation to the states during the fiscal year 2018-19 against Rs 48,178 crore released in FY18.

Saying the high-powered GST Council had made several efforts to improve tax compliance in the country, Sitharaman said: “The GST collection of the states/UTs has been showing steady improvement over the period of time. In addition, they have also assured the growth of 14 per cent for a period of five years through the payment of compensation by the central government.”

She said efforts like extensive automation of business processes, application of e-way bill mechanism, targeted action on compliance verification, enforcement based on risk assessment and proposed introduction of electronic invoice system had improved the GST revenue collection.

The GST collection figure dipped below the Rs 1 lakh crore mark for the first time in the current fiscal in June (Rs 99,939 crore). The indirect tax revenue for March was Rs 1,06,577 crore, Rs 1,13,865 crore in April, and Rs 1,00,289 crore in May. Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled out on July 1, 2017, after subsuming 17 local taxes.

Last month, the GST Council, chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, met for the first time after the Modi government returned to power. The council extended the tenure of the National Anti-Profiteering Authority by two years till November 2021 and allowed the use of Aadhaar as proof for obtaining GST registration. The matter of tax cut on electric vehicles and their chargers was also sent to the fitment committee for further consideration.

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Source: Business-Today.
Over 2 lakh new registrations in Haryana under GST

Over 2 lakh new registrations in Haryana under GST

Haryana Finance Minister Capt Abhimanyu on Tuesday said that over two lakh new registrations have been added under the GST in the state since its roll-out to the existing base of 2.25 lakh payers under the erstwhile VAT.

The Finance Minister said the progress of implementation of GST right from its roll-out in July 2017 was constantly reviewed in the state. Extensive training programmes were conducted for the training of all stakeholders.

“Workshop, seminars, conferences and interactive sessions with the taxpayers are regularly organised. The State has particularly stressed upon the expansion of the tax base,” an official statement quoted Capt Abhimanyu, as saying.

He said that Haryana is contributing handsomely in the GST collections. A total of Rs 36,815 crore was collected from the State under State GST, CGST, IGST and cess for the eight months of GST implementation during 2017-18.

“It is Rs 4,601 crore per month on an average,” he added.

He said that with regard to the state collections under GST, the state collected Rs 10,178 crore including provisional IGST settlement in the financial year 2017-18.

Capt Abhimanyu said that the protected revenue of the state for the year 2017-18 was Rs 13,200 crore. The total shortfall of the state GST revenue after taking into consideration the recoveries of erstwhile Vat and CST was Rs 1,933 crore in the financial year 2017-18.

The state received Rs 1,199 crore from compensation and Rs 667 crore from provisional IGST settlement during this period.

The Finance Minister said that in the financial year 2018-19, the state collected Rs 55,231 crore under state GST, CGST, IGST, and cess contributing Rs 4,602.56 crore per month on an average.

The total collection for Haryana under all the GST Acts is Rs 55,231 crore as against Rs 11,77,370 crore for all the states in the country.

Source: Business-Standard.

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Homestays in Kochi to come under GST, service providers upset

Homestays in Kochi to come under GST, service providers upset

The state goods and service tax department on Monday issued notices to around 50 homestays in Fort Kochi area, stating that they should come under the purview of Goods and Service Tax (GST). There are 250 homestay service providers in the West Kochi and all of them will be issued notices in the coming days by the sales tax department.

Meanwhile, the homestay operators said this move would adversely affect their businesses and lead to the closure of homestays which were the livelihood of around 1,000 people in Fort Kochi area alone. “As per the GST norms, those running services below Rs 20 lakh a year are exempted from registration. But the notice issued by state GST department clearly states that we are liable for paying GST,” said Antony Kureethra, president, Tourism Promoters’ Association, an umbrella organization which has 140 members in Fort Kochi.

The state GST department has also asked homestay operators to come to its office in Kochi on July 17 for a hearing. The homestay owners should also produce the documents like the register of customers, bank statement for 2018-19 period, cash book and receipt book for 2018-19, ledgers and other books maintained by them and the licence issued by the local authority.

Meanwhile, officials with the state GST department said that they just conducted a survey for exploring the possibilities of bringing more establishments under GST. “We conducted the survey as per the direction of the state finance department. We haven’t given notices to the homestay owners seeking GST,” an officer with state GST department said. At the same time, the notice issued by state GST department, a copy of which has been procured by TOI, clearly stated that the homestays are liable for paying GST. “It is found that you are liable to get registered under Section 22 of the CGST/SGST Act, 2017. In order to finalize the enquiry relating to your registration liability, you are requested to furnish the following documents for verification within 7 days,” notice issued to one of the homestay owners stated.

“Many of the operators think that the GST department would come knocking their doors if there is a homestay board at their facilities. So, they have started to remove the boards on Monday night itself,” said one of the homestay owners.

The Tourism Promoters’ Association has decided to approach the top officials of the GST department. They made it clear that the association would move the court if needed.

Source: Times-Of-India.

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Advance Ruling Authority under GST: Does it really solve the taxpayer’s issues?

Advance Ruling Authority under GST: Does it really solve the taxpayer’s issues?

Since the advent of GST Laws, trade and industry have faced multifarious issues relating to uploading of returns, availing legacy Cenvat credit under TRAN-1 form, various confusions regarding the generation of e-way bills and many other such small issues.

When the Government introduced the Advance Ruling Authority under GST, it sought to provide a much wider coverage as compared to the earlier Excise and Service Tax Regime, in order to provide an early resolution of the potential tax dispute coming from the trade and industry. For the first time in any Tax Legislation, an appeal mechanism was provided against the orders passed by the Advance Ruling Authority which was absent under the earlier laws and also under the existing Income Tax Act.

This welcome step by the Govt was met with overwhelming support from the trade and industry and as a result, thousands of applications were filed before the Advance Ruling Authority seeking clarification on a variety of tax issues. Surprisingly, the Advance Ruling Authorities of various states had not only come up with contradictory rulings on the same subject but also most of the rulings were decided in favour of the revenue only. Further, the applicants rarely got any relief before the Appellate Authority of Advance Ruling as well.

Probably, the constitution of this forum, which consists only of revenue officers and not having an independent judicial member is one of the biggest reasons for this outcome. Hence, instead of getting relief, the trade and industry started facing this unique challenge.

This situation was further worsened by the recent order passed by the Bombay High Court in the case of JSW Energy Limited wherein it has been held that no appeal can be filed against an order of the Appellate Authority of Advance Rulings on “merits” since no appeal has been provided under the GST Act. Without going into the merit of this judgment, which seems to have ignored the well-settled proposition of law that a writ petition is indeed maintainable before the High Court, the order of the High Court has certainly created chaos in the Industry.

Seeing this trend, strong perception in the Trade and Industry is getting build as to why one should even approach the Advance Ruling Authority who is likely to decide the matter against the assessee and when practically there is no appeal mechanism against the said order. Whereas if the assessee opts the route of the adjudication, the doors of the tribunal as well as the courts would always be open to seek relief. Given this, it appears that the whole objective of creating this forum to provide speedy resolution of issues, instead of going through the long-drawn litigation route, is getting defeated.

Hence, it was a genuine wish and demand of the industry that the Government should bring some reform in the structure and give life to this forum. Appreciating the need of the industry, the newly elected government in this Budget tried to address this issue by introducing the National Appellate Tribunal for Advance Ruling (NATAR) under Section 101A of the CGST Act, 2017. The proposed NATAR will be presided upon by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court or any High Court and would be accompanied by two technical members representing both the central and the state government.

The composition of the NATAR appears to solve the issue of departmental bias, by introducing a judicial member and also introducing an option of appeal against orders of the Appellate Authority which was previously absent under the GST Laws. However, the wording of proposed Section 101B of CGST Act suggests that an appeal before NATAR would lie only in cases where the views taken either by the members of Appellate Authority of Advance Ruling constituted in the same state or in different states are contradictory.

Though this new proposal by the Government seems to provide relief in some aspects i.e. when there are contradictory views from either of the members of the same Bench or amongst the co-ordinate Benches of different states. However, there is no relief provided against the order of the AAAR if the ruling goes against the assessee. Therefore, the NATAR would have a limited utility and this brings the taxpayer back to square one.

As per the trend of the Advance Authority Rulings thus far, it has been seen that two co-ordinate benches of the Appellate Authority rarely differ in their views when it comes to a single issue. Similarly, a situation wherein the members of the same bench of the Appellate Authority (who are both departmental officers) differ in their opinions, is also rare. Therefore, the NATAR will be limited to addressing rare situations wherein conflicting views have been taken by two or more Appellate Authorities (of different states) or two members of the same Appellate Authority Bench. Thus, despite the introduction of NATAR, effectively there is still no appellate forum available to the assessee having an adverse order of the AAAR.

This issue will only be solved if the NATAR is given wider powers to adjudicate on “any” order passed by the Appellate Authority. Hence while passing the Bill, the Government should make suitable changes in the Bill to provide the much-anticipated relief to the Industry.

In summation, the introduction of the NATAR by the government only solves the issue of the assessee on the surface. However, the real issue of having an efficacious appellate remedy against the orders of the AAR still eludes the taxpayers.

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Source: Business-Today.
Breather for exporters as Centre to pay ITC refund for State GST

Breather for exporters as Centre to pay ITC refund for State GST

In a major relief to exporters, the Centre will now pay the input tax credit (ITC) refunds of state taxes, thereby reducing transaction time and costs, and manual interface in claim processing.

As per industry, there is a huge difference in the amount claimed, state goods and services tax (SGST) sanction amount received from central tax authority and the amount actually disbursed.

“The central government has been authorised to pay the amount of refund towards state taxes to the taxpayers,” according to the 2019-20 budget. At present, the taxpayers file refund claims with the central tax officer, who clears half the claims, and the rest are cleared by the state tax authorities, leading to higher time taken in claim processing and refund sanctioning.

Exporters also say that ITC refund is partly electronic and partly manual. The exporter files refund application at the portal, takes a printout along with acknowledgement and carries it to GST authorities in hard copy along with required documents, which too vary from authorities to authorities. The physical interface adds to the transaction time and cost.

“The states and Centre did their own respective approval of ITC refund but now only one will approve both. This is a relief for exporters as it would reduce transaction time and costs,” said Ajay Sahai, director general at Federation of Indian Export Organisations.

The breather comes as exporters grapple with tight credit norms amid slowing global trade growth. Total disbursement of export credit was Rs 7.38 lakh crore in December 2018, a decline of 20% on year.

Share of PSU banks in total disbursement of export credit declined from 65% in FY16 to 45% in FY18.

Exporters have said the number of refund applications filed on the portal are higher than those received in the state tax office.

“The ability for Centre to give the refund for both the CGST and SGST will ease the problems being faced currently specially by the exporters and remove the delay in getting the entire cash post the sanction of refunds,” said Bipin Sapra, partner at EY

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Source: Economic-Times
GST collections dip below Rs 1 lakh crore in June

GST collections dip below Rs 1 lakh crore in June

Goods and services tax (GST) collections dipped below the Rs 1 lakh crore mark in June for the first time in the current fiscal in what is seen as an impact of the sluggish demand across several sectors, with tax consultants also blaming evasion for the drop in the mop-up.

The numbers, released on the second anniversary of the indirect tax reform measure, coincided with a government warning to evaders, especially those generating bogus invoices to make fraudulent claims. “The menace of fake invoices needs to be checked as it affects honest taxpayers and causes a loss of revenue to the government. Imaandaar traders se Bair Nahin, fake invoice waalon ki Khair Nahin (we have nothing against honest traders, but there will no peace for those generating fake invoices),” junior finance minister Anurag Thakur said at the GST Day event.

‘Expect increased audit and scrutiny over the next few months’

Using technology, the government has detected thousands of traders, many of whom were using shell companies to generate fake invoices and claim tax credits and refunds. Sales of durables and cars, as well as consumer goods, have taken a beating in recent months, which analysts said is reflecting in tax data.

Although tax collections have dipped in June, Thakur said the government would meet the GST collection target set for the fiscal year. During 2019-20, the government is targeting to collect Rs 6.1 lakh crore through Central GST and a shade over Rs 1 lakh crore via compensation cess on luxury and sin goods such as cars, tobacco, aerated drinks, and coal. The IGST balance has been estimated at Rs 50,000 crore.

During June, Central GST collections were pegged at Rs 18,366 crore, while State GST mop-up was pegged at Rs 25,343 crore, the finance ministry said in a statement.

“More than the amount, it’s important to note that it (growth) is only 4.5% higher than the corresponding period of last year, which should be below the government’s expectations… (it) will be a concern and we should expect some tangible measures in the form of increased audits and scrutiny over the next few months. In addition, the government may explore options as to how consumers can be incentivized to be more vigilant on tax compliance,” said Pratik Jain, partner at PwC India.

EY tax-partner Abhishek Jain said the steps planned by the government in the coming days — such as up-gradation of e-way bills and launch of e-invoicing — will help check evasion even as revenue secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey promised more reforms in the coming months.

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Source: Times-of-India.
Inter-state office services to come under GST net

Inter-state office services to come under GST net

The government is set to make it clear that services provided by an office of an organization in one state to another office in another state will face goods and services tax, or GST.

A circular to this effect, endorsed by the GST Council, will be issued soon, a government official told ET.

This is in line with the view taken by Karnataka Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR) that in-house functions such as human resources and payrolls if carried out from a center in one state for offices in other states, will face GST, for which invoice will have to be issued.

The circular will also lay down that emolument offered to service personnel will have to be included under this, the official said. Companies can claim an input tax credit for this, but for certain exempt sectors such as power, healthcare, liquor, and education, it will become a cost as a credit of tax charged would not be available, the person said. GST

The circular follows representations from the industry, seeking clarification on the taxability of activities performed by an office of an organization in one state to the office of the same organization in another state, regarded as distinct persons under the GST law and treated as supply of services between distinct persons.

The law committee under the GST Council has sought to clarify via the circular the issues dealing with distribution of input tax credit in respect of input services provided by the head office, but attributable to head office or various branch offices, treatment of expenses incurred by the head office on the procurement, distribution and management of common input services, treatment of services provided by head office such as common administration or common IT maintenance to its branch officers and their valuation.

The circular, which is in the form of frequently asked questions, will lay down as to how the input tax credit will be distributed between head office and branch officers as also that value of service will be equal to employee cost and establishment cost of supplying that service, said the official cited earlier.

Expenses will need to be apportioned using valuation principles laid down under the GST Law and generally accepted accounting principles.

Experts said the government needs to treat employee of a company as an employee of a single company irrespective of their location.

“It would be good if the government also looks at the intent behind the transactions and adopts a pragmatic approach to recognize that an employee is an employee of an organization as a whole and not of any particular location, hence there may not need to cross charge the salary costs between head office and branch office transactions,” said Harpreet Singh, partner at KPMG in India.

Experts also said the issue of cross charge is leading to a lot of confusion on the ground and avoidable paperwork.

“In most cases, it’s a revenue neutral exercise except where the output is either exempt or not within GST, where GST charged becomes a cost,” said Pratik Jain, national leader, indirect taxes at PwC.

The government should ideally make it optional where input tax is getting blocked in a particular state, Jain said, adding that employee salary should not be included as an employee is of an organization and not of a particular state or branch.

Case file 
The ambiguity over whether central administrative services provided by employees located at one location would tantamount to services being provided one location to another under the GST regime has led to litigations.

AAR, in a case pertaining to Columbia Asia Hospitals, had said such activities would qualify as a service provided by head office to other locations and hence companies are required to be cross charged and levy GST on the same. The matter has now been admitted in the Karnataka High Court and notice has been issued to the government.

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Source: Economic-Times.
Suppliers beware! GST Commissioners can monitor and sting

Suppliers beware! GST Commissioners can monitor and sting

To strengthen anti-profiteering measures in the country, the National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) has proposed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Central and State GST officers to keep an eye on top 20 suppliers in their jurisdictions, make mock purchases and take other measures.

The Rule 128 of the CGST Rules 2017 prescribes that a complaint can be filed by an interested party or a commissioner or any other person. A commissioner is considered to be the most competent authority to find whether a rate reduction has been passed on or not. The commissioner can also authorise any officer to file an anti-profiteering case. As of now, it is mostly the consumers who file complaints.

At the central level, the CBIC (Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Custom) can issue instructions to its officials. Once approved by the GST Council, the States’ tax administration can issue instructions to GST officials.

According to the draft SOP placed before the GST Council at its meeting on June 21, all commissioners (CGST and SGST) will identify top 20 suppliers under their jurisdiction (manufacturers, distributors and service providers) in respect of which the prices/MRP and availability of Input Tax credit (ITC) are likely to be impacted by changes in tax rate or any additional ITC benefit. “The first B2B (business-to-business) invoices of these suppliers’ value chain, for the relevant period, may be checked, for any prima-facie violation of anti-profiteering provisions,” the draft said.

The Commissioners will collect the data from such suppliers and collect pre-rate-reduction evidences, such as invoices, which could help them establish the facts of the case. For this, an anti-profiteering cell will be desirable which will not just help in collecting data but also in creating awareness. It has also been suggested that commissioners may also ‘cause purchase of any goods or service affected by a rate change.’ The CGST Act 2017 prescribes authorisation for the commissioners to make mock purchases so as to gather invoice for the evidence.

The GST Council has approved two-year extension for NAA, which means it can be functional till November 30, 2021. As on May 1, the authority has passed 65 orders and the hearing in 54 other matters is still on. It is stratified at these levels — the Directorate General of Anti-profiteering (DGAP) in the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Custom, a Standing Committee, and Screening Committees in every State.

As of now, a total of 170 cases are pending investigation before DGAP, while 130 cases are pending examination in Standing Committee. Nearly 100 cases are before State Screening Committees for their consideration. The current pace of disposal of the cases by the authority is four cases per month.

Source: The-Hindu-Business-Line.

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GST Council may give 1-year extension to anti-profiteering authority

GST Council may give 1-year extension to anti-profiteering authority

The GST Council is likely to extend till November 30, 2020 the tenure of the National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA), which deals with customer complaints regarding not receiving tax cut benefits, at its next meeting on June 21, an official said.

The Council at its 35th meeting, the first under new Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, is also likely to consider a proposal to set up one appellate tribunal for north-eastern states, and another one for all Union Territories.

Besides, the Council would discuss a proposal to levy Goods and Services Tax (GST) on extra-neutral alcohol (ENA), which is used for manufacturing alcoholic liquor for human consumption, the official added.

The Finance Ministry is of the view that NAA should be given an extension of one year till November 30, 2020 as the authority continues to receive complaints of profiteering by companies, the official told PTI.

The NAA is keen for a two-year extension, the official said, adding that the final call will be taken by the GST Council in its meeting on June 21 which had earlier been scheduled for June 20.

Soon after the GST was rolled out from July 1, 2017, the government had approved setting up of the NAA for two years to deal with complaints by consumers against companies for not passing on GST rate cut benefits.

The NAA came into existence on November 30, 2017, after its Chairman B N Sharma assumed charge. So far, the NAA has passed 67 orders in various cases.

The GST law provides for setting up of benches of appellate tribunal in all states. Although 18 states have got the approval to set up appellate benches, none of these states have operationalised them.

The GST Council in its June 21 meeting is likely to approve the proposals of Delhi, Odisha and Telangana to set up appellate tribunal benches.

The Council will also take a call on setting up a combined bench for all north-eastern states as well as one bench to deal with appeal cases in six Union Territories — Chandigarh, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the official said.

With regard to bringing ENA under GST, states have divergent views on levying GST. Larger states like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have been of the view that ENA should be out of GST.

States levy Value Added Tax (VAT) and Central Sales Tax (CST) on ENA. They will have to forgo the right to tax the product if it is brought under GST.

The GST Council had earlier sought the opinion of the Attorney General on legality of imposing GST on ENA. The AG had then opined that since ENA is not consumed directly by people, GST can be imposed on it.

Currently, potable alcohol is out of the ambit of GST and states are free to levy taxes on them.

Among other things, the GST Council will also consider issuance of e-invoice by entities with turnover of over Rs 50 crore for business-to-business (B2B) sales in a bid to curb GST evasion.

Source: The-Hindu.

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Traders’ body urges Centre to lower GST rate on auto parts, aluminium utensils

Traders’ body urges Centre to lower GST rate on auto parts, aluminium utensils

A traders’ body has urged the Finance Ministry to lower Goods & Services Tax (GST) on various items, including auto parts and aluminium utensils. These are among the 28 items that attract GST at the rate of 28 per cent, the highest slab rate.

This was part of a white paper, prepared and submitted by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The paper presented views for simplification and rationalisation of the GST tax structure.

Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of CAIT, told reporters that he urged the Finance Minister to review items placed under different tax slabs under GST as many of the items are overlapping. “As a matter of policy, the tax rate of raw material should not be more than the tax rate of finished goods,” he said.

The white paper talked about simplifying Form GSTR 9 and 9C (Return Forms) as it demands information which was not prescribed earlier and hence traders are unable to comply with the same.

It also raised many issues such as Advance Ruling, Reverse Charge Mechanism, Rectification of GST Returns, clarification of jurisdiction of CGST & SGST, HSN code issues, Abolition of Form ITC-04, return of expired drugs to be treated as supply, etc. The CAIT also urged to reduce the tax rate for items like hardware, mobile covers, food items, dry fruits, ice cream, food grains, malt/cereal based health food drinks, paints, marble, used vehicles, two-wheelers, agricultural equipments, roasted chana, etc.

Simplify tax procedure

According to a statement issued by CAIT, Sitharaman assured its delegation that she will look into the issues raised by the traders’ body. The intention of the government is certainly to simplify the tax procedure so that more and more people can easily comply with the same.

The trading community being the last mile contact with consumers plays an important role in collection of the revenue and it will be ensured that no undue hardship is faced by traders. The Minister urged the traders to streamline their existing business formats and ensure timely compliance with the law. There is also demand for appointing GST Lokpal in each State and the Centre.

Digital payments

Talking about other issues related to traders in their day-to-day affairs, Khandelwal suggested that in order to encourage adoption & acceptance of digital payments, the bank charges levied on card payments should be subsidised by the government directly to banks and neither the traders nor the consumers should be charged any bank charges on card payment transactions.

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Source: The-Hindu-Business-Line