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NEW DELHI: A panel of state finance ministers suggested fresh changes on Sunday to the
Goods and Services Tax+
(GST), including a cut in the levy at restaurants and a flat 1% tax for small traders, manufacturers and eateries that opt for the less onerous composition scheme.
Sources told TOI that the panel of five state finance ministers has suggested a flat 12%
for standalone restaurants, whether air-conditioned or not, and an 18% levy at eating joints located inside hotels. While standalone restaurants will not enjoy the benefit of input tax credit, those with 18% tax will be entitled to take credit for taxes paid by their suppliers.
Currently, restaurants frequented by the middle class face 18% GST.
While the overall incidence was expected to be lower with the gains of input tax credit eaten up by the restaurants, the levy is seen to be detrimental for consumers. The respite on composition scheme will also lower the burden for smaller eateries, which currently attract 5% tax under composition scheme.
The scheme, that also applies to traders and manufacturers with annual turnover of Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore, comes with a flat rate of tax and a much lower compliance burden where only the sales details have to be disclosed with no requirement to file detailed returns with invoices. In addition, the returns have to be filed on a quarterly basis.
Unlike restaurants, the tax burden on traders (1%) and manufacturers (2%) is lower.
For traders, there will be two options. Those who are willing to pay tax on their total turnover, which includes revenue from the sale of exempted goods (such as unbranded flour or dal) and non-exempted items, will pay 0.5%. But those who take the pains to segregate income from the non-exempted products will have to pay 1% tax on the sale of these goods.
While a final decision will be taken by the GST Council, comprising union and state FMs, early next month, the move by the panel is seen to be another attempt to assuage small businesses which have been complaining bitterly about GST as many of them were out of the tax net till the new regime kicked in on July 1.
The group of ministers comprising finance ministers Hemanta Biswa Sarma (Assam), Sushil Modi (Bihar), Haseeb Drabu (J&K), Manpreet Badal (Punjab) and Amar Aggarwal (Chattisgarh) has also suggested that the composition scheme be extended to inter-state sale of goods and services but no input tax credit will be available as was suggested by some states.