The all-powerful GST Council on day two of its fourteenth meet today finalised tax rates for services under the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime, scheduled to kick-in from July 1.
An officers' panel over the last six weeks had been working towards the fitment or classification exercise - an exhaustive list specifying the tax rate of goods and services, which would be presented to the Council meeting.
Currently, there are 17 items in the negative list of services on which service tax is not levied. Services are likely to be placed in two slabs of 12 per cent and 18 per cent, with a likely status quo for now exempted services. The tax rate on gold has not been finalised yet, he said, adding that the Council will meet again on June 3. On top of that there are over 60 services, like religious pilgrimage, healthcare, education, skill development, journalistic activities, which are exempt from service tax.
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The formal GST Council meeting will be held at the same venue tomorrow while the decisions taken at the meeting will be spelled out by the Union Finance Minister at a Press Conference on 19th May 2017. Most of the States in the country have already passed the State GST Bills. The tax rates will also be decided keeping in mind their impact on inflation.
The GST Council had decided on the tax slabs a year ago, with another "zero tax rate" on several items that approximately constitute half of the consumer price index basket including foodgrains. The maximum cess on pan masala has been capped at 135 per cent and for tobacco it is capped at 290 per cent or Rs 4,170 per 1000 sticks.
"There are hardly any areas where rates have been hiked", Jaitley said sadding that the GST Council has tried either to retain the earlier tax rates or has brought them down.
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