The GST Council on Wednesday deferred a decision on the rationalization of tax rates on real estate and lottery till February 24 as some opposition-ruled states demanded that a meeting, where members are physically present, be convened for deciding on such crucial issues. The 33rd meeting of the Council, held through video conferencing, also decided to extend the deadline for filing summary sales return – GSTR-3B – for January by two days till February 22.
“Considering the speed at which returns are getting filed, thousands of returns being filed every hour, the suggestion before the GST Council was to extend the deadline by two days for all states; and since some areas are facing disturbance, for Jammu & Kashmir it is extended till February 28. So we took that decision,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
The GST Council, headed by Mr. Jaitley and comprising state counterparts, was also slated to discuss the reports of the group of ministers (GoM) on under-construction housing property and lottery. Ministers from all states attended the meeting.
Briefing reporters after the meeting of the Council, Mr. Jaitley said the report of the GoM on real estate was considered, and since some states wanted a physical meeting before a final decision is taken on the issue, hence, a final decision would be taken after a physical meeting on February 24.
However, GST on lottery was not be taken up for discussion by the Council on Wednesday.
“The discussion which remained incomplete today through video conferencing… Few ministers expressed their opinion and the rest will express their opinion and we will try and take a decision on this issue on Sunday. So the meeting stands adjourned as of day for Sunday,” Mr. Jaitley said.
During the meeting, opposition-ruled states like Delhi and Kerala demanded that a physical meeting is held to decide on crucial issues like real estate and lottery, while the representative from Punjab flagged a technical point relating to land cost being included while deciding on GST rate.
“I have always followed an approach of moving as per consensus, and since some of the states wanted a meeting where members are physically present, keeping the idea of consensus in mind, I adjourned the meeting to Sunday so that a physical meeting can be held and the same issue will be discussed on Sunday,” Mr Jaitley said.
The GoM on real estate sector, headed by Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, had earlier this month suggested cutting GST on under-construction residential properties to 5 percent without input tax credit (ITC), from 12 percent, currently. On affordable housing segment, it suggested that GST is slashed to 3 percent, from 8 percent.
At present, GST is levied at 12 percent with ITC on payments made for under-construction property or ready-to-move-in flats where completion certificate has not been issued at the time of sale.
During the Council meeting on Wednesday, the representative from Bihar suggested that GST on the affordable housing segment be brought down to 1 percent. It also suggested that where 90 percent area of a property is used for residential purposes and 10 percent is used for commercial purpose, it should be treated as residential property for GST purposes.
The GoM on the lottery, under Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, favored a uniform GST rate of either 18 percent or 28 percent.
Currently, a state-organized lottery attracts 12 percent GST while a state-authorized lottery attracts 28 percent tax. The GoM favored hiking GST rate on the state-organized lottery to either 18 percent or 28 percent and lowering rate on a state-authorized lottery to 18 percent or retaining it at 28 percent.
On Tuesday, Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had strongly objected to the suggestion of the GoM saying this would benefit “lottery mafia” and that a decision should be taken only during a physical meeting.
“I will walk out of the February 20 Council meeting if any decision is taken on a lottery. Also, I will henceforth not attend any Council meetings till the elections are over. This is not cooperative federalism,” Mr. Isaac had said.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had also written to Mr. Jaitley on Tuesday, seeking that a meeting is held where all members are physically present.
The two GoMs were set up by the GST Council last month.
PwC India Partner and Leader Indirect Tax Pratik Jain said restricting the input credit is not a good idea for any sector, particularly real estate which requires more formalization.
“If at all the final decision is to introduce a 5 per cent levy without input credit, it is important that other related issues such as reduction in GST rate on cement and on construction contracts are also deliberated in detail, along with aspects such as treatment of input credit which may already be accumulated in the books,” Mr Jain said.