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27th GST Council meet today, Jaitley to attend through video conferencing


New Delhi, May 3: The 27th meeting of the GST Council on Friday will consider the introduction of simplified tax return form, incentives for digital payments and a proposal to convert GST Network into a government company.

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The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley-chaired council, comprising state finance ministers, will meet through video conferencing. The meeting comes at a time when Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections achieved its record high by exceeding Rs 1 lakh crore milestone in April.

A decision on simplification of tax return form is on the agenda with the Sushil Modi-led group of ministers (GoM) putting the three models of new form for discussions before the council, sources said. The council will also consider converting GSTN into a government-owned company with the equal holding of states and the Centre. Currently, five private financial institutions -- HDFC Ltd, HDFC Bank Ltd, ICICI Bank Ltd, NSE Strategic Investment Co and LIC Housing Finance Ltd -- hold 51 per cent stake in GSTN, which was incorporated on March 28, 2013, in the erstwhile UPA regime.

The remaining 49 per cent stake is with the Centre and states. Jaitley had earlier this month asked Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia to "examine the possibility" of converting GSTN into a majority government company or a 100 percent government company. GSTN provides the IT backbone for the new indirect tax regime.

As Jaitley has been advised by doctors to stay in isolation to avoid contracting infection, the meeting would be conducted through video conferencing, sources said.

The council, an official added, will deliberate on the new simplified form to be common for both small and large taxpayers and providing some relief for NIL return filers by allowing them to file return quarterly. One of the models of new return form stipulates that provisional credit should not be granted unless the taxpayers file returns and pay taxes. The second model provides that provisional credit could be granted to a taxpayer, but returns have to be filed within 3-4 months and taxes have to be paid or else the credit amount would be reversed.

After consulting the stakeholders, the GoM earlier this month worked out a third model for return filing as per which credit could be extended once the invoice uploaded by the supplier is verified by the purchaser on the GSTN portal. Besides, the government has also worked on a proposal to incentivise digital transactions by providing cash-backs to businesses and price benefits to consumers.

As per the proposal being worked out by the Revenue Department, consumers paying through digital mode would be offered a discount over the maximum retail price (MRP). The discount would be capped at Rs 100. Businesses, on the other hand, could get a cash-back based on the quantum of turnover through the digital mode. As a matter of precaution, the department will ascertain the veracity of the digital transactions reported by the businesses and then credit the cash-back to their bank account.


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