GST Council reaches broad consensus on setting up GST Appellate Tribunal; likely to be included in Finance Bill 2023

The GST Council meeting held on February 18, 2023 and discussed setting up of appellate tribunals, and mechanism to curb tax evasion in pan masala and gutkha business, among other matters.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chaired the 49th meeting of the GST Council.

After the GST Council meeting, Ms. Sitharaman briefed about the decisions taken.

Ms. Sitharaman said “We have had a very detailed day-long meeting. The atmosphere was entirely cordial and there was a sense of working together and as a result, two GOM reports have been accepted. One of them has a slight amendment and some changes in the language.”

The Finance Minister said “The entire dues of GST Compensation pending to States are being cleared today. The entire pending balance of GST Compensation of ₹16,982 crore for June 2022 will be cleared, though it is not available in the GST Compensation Fund as of now and will be recouped from future cess collections after being paid out from the Centre’s coffers.”

She said “In addition to this, the Centre will also clear additional compensation claims made by States where the Accountant General has certified them. These amount to ₹16,524 crore.”

Ms. Sitharaman further added “From among the decisions we have taken today, first related to the GST rates on Raab (a kind of liquid jaggery typical to UP and other States) — we are reducing the GST rate on Raab from 18% to nil if it is sold loose and 5% if it is pre-packaged and labelled. Then, there’s been quite a lot of discussion on pencil sharpeners, which is being reduced from 18% to 12%.”

Ms. Sitharaman said “Data loggers and tracking devices used for containers is being reduced to 0 from 18%, subject to some conditions. There’s been a decision to tax services supplied by courts and tribunals under the reverse charge mechanism. A few other decisions were taken on law and procedure-related matters.”

The Finance Minister said “There is a decision taken on rationalisation of late fee for delayed filing of annual returns for smaller taxpayers having an aggregate turnover of ₹20 crore and for registered entities with turnover of ₹5 crore to ₹20 crore. An amnesty scheme is also being introduced for some returns as well.”

She said “The GoM report on the establishment of the GST Appellate Tribunal has been accepted with slight modifications in the language that will be shared with States tomorrow and following which a final draft of the Tribunal’s setting up will be worked out. The GST Council has authorised the chairperson to take the final view and incorporate it in the Finance Bill, since there is not much time for the Council to meet again.”

Ms. Sitharaman said “Now that the GST Council has agreed on the tribunal, the changes required in the text will be finalised by March 3 so that this year’s Finance Bill itself can help set up the Tribunal.”

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