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India becomes latest country to scrap tax on sanitary towels

23 July 2018

After a nine-hour meeting of the GST Council, chaired by acting finance minister Piyush Goyal, the government on Saturday chose to exempt GST on sanitary napkins; deities made of stone, marble or wood; Raakhis without precious metals; raw materials used in brooms; commemorative coins; fortified milk; and the premium paid under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme.

Sanitary napkins, which attract 12 per cent tax, and fortified milk, which was taxed at 18 per cent, have been exempt from the new indirect tax.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 28th GST Council meeting, the minister also said the tax on bamboo was also slashed to 12 percent.

Earlier this year, Akshay had starred in his home productions film Pad Man, which narrated the story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who introduced the low-priced sanitary napkins.

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Items on which GST rates were reduced include footwear, small television sets, water heaters, refrigerators, lithium-ion batteries, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, food appliances and ethanol.

Also idols made of stone, marble, wood, rakhi not embedded with stone, phool jhadu, sal leaves, too have been exempted.

The GST Council on Saturday approved the new return formats and associated changes in law - a move that will simplify the tax filing process. Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the modalities of this would be laid out by the GST Network. The new prices will be effective from July 27.

Tax filers with an annual turnover of less than Rs. 5 crore a year need to file returns on a quarterly basis while paying tax on a monthly basis. It is estimated to cause a revenue loss of around Rs 8,000-10,000, crore with cuts in the peak 28% slab alone costing the exchequer about Rs 6,000 crore.

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Asked about the revenue impact of the tax rate cut, Goyal said it will only be "nominal". "Over 90 per cent of small businesses would be benefited as quarterly filing of returns for those with a turnover of up to Rs 5 crore has been prescribed against the present monthly returns, thus, paving the way for a reduction in the compliance burden of the industry", Mahesh Jaising, partner of Deloitte India, said.

The next GST Council meeting will be held on August 4.

Taxpayers who are yet to register under the GST have been given a final extension till August 31. In its meeting in November a year ago, the Council had reduced rates in over 178 items in the 28 per cent tax bracket.

"I think all women will be happy to know that sanitary pads will now have 100 per cent exemption".

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India becomes latest country to scrap tax on sanitary towels