GST Updates (21 Nov 2016)

Centre conducts sensitisation seminar on GST

November 21, 2016

Racing against time to meet GST deadline, the Centre today held a sensitisation workshop for over 400 officials on the new indirect tax regime which Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha described as moving away from tax exemptions to seamless flow of credit and tax payments.

The workshop, held a day before an informal meeting of state Finance Ministers to discuss administrative control issues, was organized to sensitize these officers about the key features of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Speaking at the workshop, Sinha said GST is an important milestone in the concept of cooperative federalism where the Centre and States have come together to address an important national issue of present complex indirect tax regime in the country.

The successful implementation of GST can lead to this model of cooperative federalism being replicated in other spheres, he said, highlighting “GST reform process would lead to a move from the regime of tax exemptions in various sectors of economy to a regime of seamless flow of credit and payment of tax”

Sinha was addressing the seminar organized by the GST Council, in which more than 400 senior officers including Secretaries of various Ministries/Departments of the Government of India participated, an official statement said.

The Cabinet Secretary also urged the senior officers to be fully prepared for roll-out of GST and be in touch with various stakeholders to address their concerns for smooth implementation of GST.

The seminar was also addressed by the Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia. A presentation on the salient features of GST was made by Chairman CBEC, Najib Shah.
The seminar concluded with a session on ‘Questions and Answers’ in which clarifications were given to many queries particularly pertaining to sectors of exports, transport, real estate, railways and airlines etc, it added. Source - [21-11-2016]

Power politics hits GST post Centre’s demonetisation move

November 21, 2016

With the banknote crisis sharpening the political divide, the Centre and states on Sunday virtually refused to move an inch from their stated positions on the separation of administrative powers in the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

After marathon deliberations with state finance ministers, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said “meeting remained incomplete and discussions will continue on November 25”. States alleged that the Centre, which wanted a vertical split of the near-10-million indirect tax assessee base, had only turned more adamant.

With a predictably acrimonious Parliament looking less likely than a few days ago to pass the central GST, integrated GST and compensation-for-states Bills, the Centre’s plan to roll out the comprehensive indirect tax, which will subsume excise, service tax and local levies, from April next year, is indeed threatened.

Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac told FE: “We had a prolonged discussion from 10am to 3pm. A number of key states have the view that there must a combination of horizontal and vertical split of responsibility. We are discussing about number of dealers and how much (of the base) would be exclusively under the control of the state governments, and what would be a fair division of work between states and the Centre. We couldn’t reach an agreement.”

Isaac added: “The Centre wants a share of the small dealers, who have been exclusively serviced by the states except for the service providers. We fear that this will only create unnecessary problems.”

The political leadership has, however, given the bureaucrats a brief, and officials of both central and state governments will meet on Monday to work out a solution. At Sunday’s meeting, state FMs from West Bengal, UP, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Uttarakhand have insisted on an exclusive control over small taxpayers, with annual revenue below R1.5 crore, for both goods and services.

They feel states have the infrastructure deployment at the grassroot level and small taxpayers are familiar with local authorities. The central government, on the other hand, is not in favour of the demand as it wants a single-registration regime for ease to service taxpayers.

Instead of horizontally splitting the taxpayers — those with R1.5-crore revenue with states and those above with Centre — it has proposed to divide the entire taxpayer base vertically wherein the taxpayers are divided between the Centre and the states in a fixed proportion. As a compromise, it is willing to give states an administrative power over 2/3rd of the taxpayer base if service tax continues to be administered by the Centre.

There are five options being discussed for the division of administrative powers : 1) a pure turnover-based division where taxpayers with turnover below R1.5 crore would be administered by the states and the larger ones by the Centre, however, this is not acceptable to states as bulk of the tax revenue comes from the second category; 2) below R1.5-crore revenue taxpayers with states and others under cross-empowerment (the Centre won’t agree on this as it is a skewed distribution; 3) the second option tweaked to keep all service taxpayers with the Centre (this option is put on the backburner as it was recognised to create jurisdictional problems for businesses which supply a substantial mix of goods and services; 4) cross-empowerment where every year both the Centre and states will decide who will audit whom on the basis of risk parameters; 5) a complete vertical division for three years, including for audit, with a Centre-state ratio of 4:6; with a mirror image approach favouring the Centre for over R1.5-crore revenue taxpayers.

At its last meeting, the GST Council had agreed on a four-slab structure – 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent — along with an additional cess on luxury and `sin’ goods, such as tobacco, to raise the funds for the Centre to compensate the states. The council is yet to take a call on the rate on precious metals, including gold, but sources say 3-4% rate is under active consideration. Source [21-11-2016]

With GST on the anvil, system ripe for a change

November 21, 2016

With GST on the anvil, system ripe for a change: YV Reddy

The timing of the government’s demonetisation move was perfect coming when the goods and services tax (GST) is all set to be implemented, former Reserve Bank of India governor YV Reddy has said, and suggested more changes to target black money.

“It is a historic moment. There is bound to be paradigm shift in the economic and political system. With the GST on the anvil, the system is ripe for a change,” Reddy told ET.

“However, to take it forward, contract enforcement and judicial processes will have to play active role,” he said. “It is impossible to have a big change without some inconvenience and some temporary disruptions,” said Reddy who is now chairman of the 14th Finance Commission.

It is possible that black money is merely a symptom of a deeper disease, and that disease is very complex, Reddy said recently.

Black money is defined as “assets or resources that have neither been reported to the public authorities at the time of their generation nor disclosed at any point of time during their possession” as per the white paper on the subject tabled in the Parliament in May, 2012.

But there are no official estimates on its quantum in the system.

Explaining the nuances of the issue, Reddy said it was easy to grow from low income economy to a middle income economy on relation-based, or personal contact-based, system when scale of operations are small and trade is largely localised.

“In such a setting, networks of information flows, norms of behaviour and sanctions for deviants may already be present from the social environment, or can develop quickly as people interact economically among themselves,” he said. “Therefore, self enforcing governance is feasible. But for a sustained growth, rule-based governance must prevail over relation based ones.”

Black money, according to Reddy, is not merely an issue of taxation or non-declaration or committing crime and imposing punishment. It is manifestation of a bigger problem of governance. “In countries that are moving from relation-based systems to rule-based systems, there are challenges,” he said.

Interestingly, people urge severe actions by government precisely in those countries where governments are reputed to be weak in governance, Reddy said. Source – [21-11–2016]

Informal meeting of GST Council on issue of tax jurisdiction remains inconclusive

November 21, 2016

The Centre and states today failed to reach a consensus on who will control which set of assessees under GST.

The GST Council will meet again on November 25 to work out the modalities.

The informal meeting of Union Finance Minister and his state counterparts was called to break the political deadlock on sharing of administrative control under the proposed goods and services tax (GST) regime.

“The meeting has remained incomplete. Discussions will continue on November 25,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the meeting.

Today’s meeting, which came ahead of the formal meeting of the all powerful GST Council on November 25, was held after the Centre and states were deadlocked over the issue at two previous meetings.

The government aims to roll out GST, which will subsume excise, service tax and local levies, from April next year Officers of both central and state governments will meet tomorrow and try to workout a solution.

States like Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have insisted on exclusive control over small businesses, which earn less than Rs 1.5 crore in annual revenue, for both goods and services.

They feel states have infrastructure deployment at grassroot level and small taxpayers are familiar with state authorities.

The Centre, on the other hand, is unagreeable to the demand as it wants single registration mechanism for ease to service taxpayers.

Instead of horizontally splitting the taxpayers — tax payers with Rs 1.5 crore revenue with states and those above with Centre — it has proposed to divide entire taxpayer base vertically, wherein taxpayers are divided between the Centre and states in a fixed proportion.

As a compromise, it is willing to give states administrative power over 2/3rd of the taxpayer base, with service tax continuing to be administered by Centre.

An official said the informal meeting was held sans civil servants to arrive at a political solution. Source – [21-11-2016]

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