GST Council extends anti-profiteering authority's tenure, sends rate cut on electric vehicles to fitment panel

The GST Council Friday extended the tenure of the anti-profiteering authority by two years till November 2021 and allowed use of Aadhaar as proof for obtaining GST registration while referring tax cut on electric vehicles and their chargers to an officers’ committee.

The Council’s meeting, chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also approved imposing a penalty of up to 10 per cent of the profiteered amount on entities for not passing on benefits of GST rate cuts to consumers, as against the current norm of levying a maximum fine of Rs 25,000.

Also, it extended the date for the filing of annual Goods and Services Tax (GST) returns for 2017-18 fiscal by two months till August 30, 2019. Also the date for barring non-filers of GST returns for two consecutive months from generating e-way bills for transporting goods has been extended by two months till August 21, 2019.

Briefing reporters after the 35th meeting of the Council, Revenue Secretary A B Pandey said the new GST return filing system would come into effect fully from January 1, 2020.

The Council also approved the rollout of an electronic invoicing system on a pilot basis from January 1, 2020, made it mandatory for GST-registered multiplexes to issue e-tickets, and also decided to seek Attorney General opinion on the issue of GST rate on lotteries.

Pandey said the Centre has shared details relating to the generation of fake invoices with the states, and the Council has given in-principle approval to launch a pilot project on e-invoices from January 1.

According to the proposal, entities with a turnover of more than Rs 50 crore will be required to generate electronic invoices on a government portal for B2B sales.

He said it would be mandatory for multi-screen cinema halls to issue e-tickets, which would ensure that the tax revenues accruing to Centre and states are deposited in the exchequer.

Explaining the rationale behind seeking AG opinion on taxing lotteries, Sitharaman said the principle of taxation under GST is that it should be one rate across the country, whereas in case of lotteries there were two rates being charged. “Hence it was decided to obtain clarity on Article 340”.

Currently, a state-organised lottery attracts 12 per cent GST while a state-authorised lottery attracts 28 per cent tax.

An eight-member group of state finance ministers could not reach a consensus on whether a uniform tax rate should be imposed on lotteries or the current differential tax rate system be continued.

To a query on whether there were discussions on further rate rationalisation, Sitharaman said, “There wasn’t any specific thing on it…. We have very clearly emphasised and every state was on board that simplification is the route through which we should approach the whole thing and the objective should be towards simplification”.

Pandey said the proposal to reduce GST rate on electric vehicles to 5 per cent from the current 12 per cent and that on chargers for e-vehicles to 12 per cent from 18 per cent has been referred to the fitment committee for fine-tuning.

Asked about revenue implication, Pandey said, “Currently there is no significant manufacturing of e-vehicles in India and the government wants to encourage domestic manufacturing”.

The Finance Ministry in a tweet said that Sitharaman in her opening remarks to the Council meeting said that “GST Council has much more work to do including simplification of GST Rules, rationalisation of GST rates & bringing more items in the ambit of GST among others”. The Council also passed a resolution acknowledging the stellar role played by former Union Finance Minister and chairman of Council Arun Jaitley, expressing its gratitude and appreciation for the exemplary contribution made by him in making the GST Council a shining example of co-operative federalism.