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GST Council doubles tax exemption limit to Rs 40 lakh, raises composition scheme limit

With an aim to give relief to small businesses, the all-powerful Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has decided to doubled the limit for exemption from payment of GST to Rs 40 lakh from the earlier cap of Rs 20 lakh. It also decided that from the next fiscal year, businesses with annual turnover of Rs 1.5 crore will be able to pay GST at a fixed rate of their earnings under the composition scheme, while the current limit is Rs 1 crore. Besides, it allowed Kerala to levy a 1% calamity cess on intra-state sale of goods and services for a period of up to two years to mobilise revenues to meet the cost of rehabilitating parts of states that were ravaged by floods last year.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the taxpayers with an aggregate turnover of Rs 40 lakh would now be exempted from the GST. For the north eastern states, the exemption would now be Rs 20 lakh. Currently, businesses with a turnover of up to Rs 20 lakh are exempt from GST registration, while the limit for hilly and north eastern states is Rs 10 lakh. He said the GST Composition Scheme, under which small traders and businesses pay a 1% tax based on turnover, can be availed by businesses with a turnover of Rs 1.5 crore, against the earlier Rs 1 crore, with effect from April 01, 2019. Also, service providers and suppliers of both goods and services up to a turnover of Rs 50 lakh would be eligible to opt for the GST composition scheme and pay a tax of 6%. He added that these decisions would give a relief to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The twin decision under the composition scheme would have an annual revenue impact of about Rs 3,000 crore. On GST rate for real estate, Jaitley said the council has decided for form a seven-member group of ministers after differences of opinion emerged at the meeting, and there were diverse views on lottery. A ministerial panel will look into it as well. He further said those opting for the composition scheme would have to file just one tax return annually but pay taxes once every quarter. He said there would be two thresholds -- Rs 40 lakh and Rs 20 lakh -- for exemption from registration and payment of the GST for the suppliers of goods, with the facility that one can 'opt up or opt down' depending on revenue.

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