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Tax base has doubled from Rs 66.2 lakh to 1.2 crore, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Four years of GST: Tax base has doubled from Rs 66.2 lakh to 1.2 crore, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Commending taxmen for the dealing with GST fraud, the FM said enhanced revenue collection in the recent months should now be the ‘new normal’

File image of Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. PTI

New Delhi: Commending taxmen for the enforcement measures in dealing with GST fraud, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said the enhanced revenue collection in the recent months should now be the “new normal”.

In a message to tax officers on the fourth anniversary of historic tax reform GST, she said in the last four years the taxpayer base has almost doubled from 66.25 lakh to 1.28 crore.

She said for eight months in a row, GST revenues have crossed Rs 1 lakh crore mark and we have seen a record GST revenue collection of Rs 1.41 lakh crore in April 2021.

“Commendable work has been done in the year gone by both in the area of facilitation and enforcement with numerous cases of fraudulent dealers and ITC being registered. The enhanced revenue collection in recent months should now be the ‘new normal’,” Sitharaman said.

A nationwide GST, which subsumed 17 local levies like excise duty, service tax, and VAT, and 13 cesses, was rolled out on July 1, 2017.

Expressing satisfaction on overcoming most of the GST implementation challenges, including two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister also thanked taxpayers for their support in making the goods and services tax (GST) a reality.

“Its positive externalities such as unified market, removal of cascading and imp[roved competitiveness of goods and services has helped spur economic growth taking us further on the path to prosperity,” she said while commending both the central and state tax officers for making GST a success.

Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) will be issuing certificate of appreciation to 54,439 GST payers for timely filing of returns and cash payment of GST in the last four years. More than 88 per cent of these taxpayers are from micro, small and medium enterprises.

She said any reform of this scale, in a large and diverse country like India, can be highly challenging.

“The GST Council has shown immense sagacity and wisdom in redressing legitimate concerns of taxpayers and citizens by course correction whenever needed. This has manifested itself not just in measures to ease the compliance burden on taxpayers, especially MSMEs, but also reducing the tax burden on the common man,” Sitharaman added.

Under GST, businesses with an annual turnover of up to Rs 40 lakh are exempt from GST. Additionally, those with a turnover up to Rs 1.5 crore can opt for the Composition Scheme and pay only 1 percent tax.

For services, businesses with turnover up to Rs 20 lakh in a year are GST exempt. A service provider having turnover up to Rs 50 lakh in a year can opt for composition scheme for services and pay only 6 percent tax.

Under GST a four-rate structure that exempts or imposes a low rate of tax 5 percent on essential items and top rate of 28 percent on cars is levied. The other slabs of tax are 12 and 18 percent. In the pre-GST era, the total of VAT, excise, CST and their cascading effect led to 31 percent as tax payable, on average, for a consumer.

GST also represents an unprecedented exercise in fiscal federalism. The GST Council, which brings together the central and state governments, has met 44 times to thrash out how the tax will work.

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