The Goods and Services Tax (GST) levy may go up to 40 percent after the GST Council proposed raising the peak rate in the Bill to 20 percent, from the current 14 percent, to obviate the need for approaching Parliament for any change in rates in future.
The model Goods and Services Tax Bill will replace the clause which states the tax rate "not exceeding 14 percent, with "not exceeding 20 percent" when it comes up for debate in Parliament during the second phase of Budget session beginning next week.
The change in the peak rate will not alter the 4-slab rate structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent agreed upon last year for the moment, but is only a provision being built into the model law to take care of contingencies in future, two officials in the know told PTI.
The revised draft of model GST law, which was made public in November 2016, provides for a maximum rate of tax under the new regime at 14 percent (14 percent central GST and an equal state GST, taking the total to 28 percent).
the draft law statesThere shall be levied a tax called the central/state goods and services tax (CGST/SGST) on all intra-state supplies of goods and/or services... at such rates as may be notified by the central/state government... but not exceeding 14 percent on the recommendation of the Council and collected in such manner as may be prescribed.
Officials said this will now be changed to say the rate will not exceed "20 percent".
The GST Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising representatives of all states, has agreed to keep the upper band of the rate in the law at 20 percent.
For the moment, we will not tinker with the rate structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent. The GST Council has decided to keep the upper cap higher at 20 percent so that in future, if a need to hike tax rate arises, there is no need to approach Parliament for a nod and the GST Council can raise it
This means the central GST and state GST can be up to 20 percent each, leaving the scope for a maximum levy at 40 percent.
"The 4-tier rate structure that has been decided will hold for now. By keeping the upper cap at 20 percent, we are just keeping an enabling provision which the Council can exercise at a later date after deliberation," the officials added.
Mirroring the model GST law, the CGST, the SGST and the UTGST law will be firmed up by the Centre, states and Union Territories, respectively.
The Centre plans to introduce in Parliament the Central GST (CGST) Bill in the forthcoming session beginning 9 March.
After it is ratified, the states will introduce the State GST (SGST) Bill in their respective legislative Assemblies.
(With PTI Inputs.)