New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday promised not to spring any surprises in fixing tax rates under the new GST regime, saying they will not be “significantly different” from current levels.
He, however, said companies should pass on to consumers the benefit of reduction in taxes under GST which will eliminate the current compounding effect of different central and state levies. The GST Council, headed by Jaitley and comprising representatives of all the states, is scheduled to meet in Srinagar on May 18-19 to finalise tax rates on different goods and services after unifying at least 10 indirect taxes into the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Speaking at CII’s Annual Meeting, he said rules and regulations governing GST have all been framed. “We are now in final stages of fixing tariffs for different commodities. The formula under which it is being done has also been explained and therefore nobody is going to be taken by surprise, it’s not going to be very significantly different (from present),” he said.
The GST Council has finalised four rate categories of 5, 12, 18 and 28% after unifying levies like central excise, service tax and VAT. Fitment will be done by adding the total incidence of current taxation (central plus state levies) and then putting the good or service in the tax bracket closest to it.
Jaitley said the GST Council has so far had 13 meetings and has never had to resort to voting to decide on any issue. “And therefore all states representing different political complexions, have all agreed (on GST structure),” he said.
The Finance Minister said the Council is of the opinion that any benefit accruing from lower tax rates under GST should be passed on to consumers. “Profit is not a bad word… but unfair enrichment is. And therefore the benefit of reduction in taxation is a benefit that consumers are entitled to. And that’s not a principle that can be seriously contested,” he said.
The GST laws approved by Parliament have incorporated an anti-profiteering provision to ensure that the reduction of tax incidence is passed on to the consumers.