GST Council meet: Certain offenses decriminalised, threshold for launching prosecution doubled

The Council could decide on only 8 out of the 15 agenda items due to paucity of time.

PTIUpdated: Saturday, December 17, 2022, 03:05 PM IST
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Nnirmala Sitharaman | Image credit: FPJ

The GST Council on Saturday agreed to decriminalise certain offences and doubled the threshold for launching prosecution to Rs 2 crore, Revenue Secretary Sanjay Malhotra said. The Council could decide on only 8 out of the 15 agenda items due to paucity of time, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, adding the items not considered included one pertaining to setting up of appellate tribunals for GST.

The issue of mechanism to curb tax evasion in pan masala and gutkha businesses could also not be taken up. Malhotra said GST on online gaming and casinos was not discussed as the report of a Group of Ministers (GoM), chaired by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, on the issue submitted its report only a couple of days back.

The report of the GoM was not even circulated to GST Council members, he added. He further said the Council agreed to raise the threshold of launching prosecution to Rs 2 crore from the present Rs 1 crore.

Also, the GST on husk of pulses was reduced to nil from 5 per cent.

With regard to decriminalisation of offences, the law committee of the GST Council, comprising tax officers from the Centre and states, has suggested to the Council to increase the monetary threshold for launching prosecution for GST offences.

The law committee has also suggested that the fee payable by taxpayer for compounding of GST offences be lowered to 25 per cent of the tax amount, from up to 150 per cent currently, with a view to improving ease of doing business.

It has suggested raising the threshold of launching prosecution to Rs 20 crore, from Rs 5 crore at present. Launching of prosecution by taxmen means commencement of legal proceedings against the offender.

The report of the GoM on tax evasion by pan masala and gutkha companies is likely to be taken up for discussion in the Council, sources said.

With regard to setting up of Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunals (GSTATs), the GoM has suggested that the tribunals should consist of two judicial members, and one technical member each from the Centre and states, besides a retired Supreme Court judge as President, sources said.

The GoM on GSTATs was set up in July under the chairmanship of Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala.

With regard to taxation of online gaming, casinos and horse racing, the GoM, in its last meeting in November, had agreed on a 28 per cent GST on these segments.

However, in absence of consensus on whether the tax should be levied on only the fees charged by the portal or the entire consideration, including the bet amount, received from participants, the GoM had decided to refer all suggestions to the GST Council for a final decision.

Currently, online gaming attracts 18 per cent GST. The tax is levied on gross gaming revenue, which is the fees charged by online gaming portals.

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