Discontent over GST classification grows. CAIT seeks reclassification
There is growing discontent, especially among the trading community, over the classifications under the goods and service tax (GST). Items, which were in the lower category under value added tax (VAT) are now being categorised in higher tax slabs under GST, says a traders' body.
In a release, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said, "...classification of different items under various tax slabs of GST has created an environment of anxiety and concern among the trading community across the country, leading various verticals of retail trade to demand lower tax on the items being dealt by them since they have been categorised under higher tax slab in comparison to tax slab of current VAT tax regime."
About 1,211 goods and 36 services have been so far classified under GST, of which nearly 50% goods have been placed under 8% rate, 14% under 5% rate, 17% under 12% rate and 19% under 28% rate. The GST Council is yet to decide the tax bracket for items like textiles, gems and jewellery, and footwear. In view of the growing discontent over proposed GST rates, CAIT says it has urged the government to revisit the rate schedule.
It says, "The wider impact of the classification of items under different tax slabs needs to be gauged very cautiously, since under GST not only the taxes paid on goods but even the taxes paid on the services will be eligible for input tax credit, whereas on the other hand taxes paid on inter-state purchases of goods or availing services will also be eligible for input tax credit. Hitherto, both these advantages were not available under VAT tax regime. Therefore, impact on the prices of commodities will have to be drawn after calculating advantages of input tax credit."
"However," the traders' body says, "items like auto spare parts, which are under 5% VAT slab, have been placed under 28%, though milk is exempted but ghee and butter have been placed under 12% GST slab. Items related to construction and infrastructure like cement, builders hardware, iron & steel have been placed under 28% expecting to make housing and infrastructure costly under GST regime. General consumables like turmeric, jeera, red chilly, and dhania have been placed under 5% instead of exempted goods unlike other food products. Hand bags, wallet and similar items have been under the slab of 28% similar to marble, stone, iron & steel, and plywood used for construction of buildings. Pickles, sauces, instant mixer and some of the other items pertaining to food processing have been placed under 18% tax slab though these are consumed by large number of common people across the country. Though, utensils are in 12% tax rate but other incidental items like cutlery have been placed in 18% tax slab. Items used by students like crayon, pastels have been under 12% tax rate. Though contraceptives have been under exempted category, women hygiene product sanitary napkins has been placed under 12% tax rate."
CAIT has suggested that, to make transportation more economical, the tax slab of tyres and tubes, pegged at 28%, may also be reduced to a lower slab.
"While carrying out fitment of goods under different tax slabs of GST, the motive is to expand the tax base, no cascading impact on prices and easy compliance of the taxation system. In furtherance of the same, the CAIT has suggested the Government to constitute a Joint Committee of senior Officials and representatives of trade and industry to iron out the difference of opinion on tax rates," says BC Bhartia, National President, and Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of CAIT.