41st GST Council Meeting Highlights, Updates, Outcome and More

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Published Date:  01-12-2023   Author:   moulik-jain
catainbiz st gst council meeting highlights updates outcome and more

The 41st GST Council Meeting took place on August 27, 2020, virtually via a video call around 4:30 p.m. IST. It was held to specifically discuss the pressing issue of state compensation shortfalls. Chaired by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the assembly saw participation of key stakeholders and state representatives. After a lot of discussion, the council concluded two solutions to bridge the gap between cess collections and compensation disbursements.

Beyond compensation issues, the Council tackled various GST-related concerns, including late fee rationalization and exempting IGST on COVID-19 equipment imports. The Council reintroduced the GST amnesty scheme, easing late fees for all taxpayers. Special consideration was given to small taxpayers.

The shortfall for the FY 2020-21 calculated and addressed was Rs 2,35,000 crore. Out of this, Rs 97,000 crore is the shortfall due to the implementation of GST, whereas the rest is considered as due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Options to address compensation shortfalls would impact state finances. Meanwhile, the measures to improve compliance signal a shift towards an efficient GST system with potential revenue gains. 

This article delves into the meeting’s minutes, examining decisions, potential repercussions, and broader implications for the GST system.

Key Highlights of the 41st GST Meeting 

The session of the 41st GST Council Meeting on August 27, 2020, played a crucial role in addressing a paramount concern – the compensation shortfall felt by states since the initiation of GST. As collections from cess proved insufficient for compensatory payouts, the meeting proposed two prospective solutions to bridge this fiscal gap.

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Issue Decision
Compensation shortfall Two options presented to states: 1. Borrowing from a special window 2. Extending compensation cess beyond 2022
GST amnesty scheme Reintroduced to provide an opportunity for taxpayers to rectify past non-compliance
Rationalization of late fees Late fees for GST non-compliance were rationalized, with a focus on easing the burden on small taxpayers
IGST exemption for COVID-19 equipment IGST exempted on imports of COVID-19 treating equipment and relief materials up to August 31, 2021
  1. Tackling Compensation Shortfall

At the forefront of discussions was the motto to rectify the shortcomings experienced by states during the GST transition. This deficit, amounting to ₹2.35 lakh crore, was attributed to the combined effects of GST implementation challenges and the economic loss induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Compensation Alternatives

To address the compensation shortfall, two options were presented:

  • Utilizing a Special Window for Borrowing

States could opt to borrow from a designated special window provided by the Centre, with the repayment facilitated through future cess collections.

  • Extending Compensation Cess Beyond 2022

With the existing compensation cess set to conclude in June 2022, this option proposed an extension of the cess period to sustain ongoing compensation disbursements.

  1. Additional GST Considerations

Beyond compensation matters, the meeting deliberated on other GST-related issues:

  • Revival of the GST Amnesty Scheme

The Council sanctioned the revival of the GST amnesty scheme, offering taxpayers an avenue to rectify past non-compliance.

  • Streamlining Late Fees

A concerted effort to rationalize late fees for GST non-compliance, particularly focusing on alleviating the burden for small taxpayers.

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  • IGST Exemption for COVID-19 Equipment

In a move to bolster the healthcare sector during the pandemic, imports of COVID-19 treating equipment and relief materials were exempted from Integrated GST (IGST) until August 31, 2021.

The 41st GST Council Meeting marked a substantial stride in addressing the compensation shortfall and implementing timely measures to enhance compliance and support the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 crisis. The decisions forged in this meeting bear the potential to resonate within the GST framework, exerting a lasting impact on state finances and fiscal dynamics in the long term.

Updates of the Meeting 

The updates from the 41st GST council showcase the thorough strategy adopted by the GST Council to tackle a range of issues and difficulties encountered by taxpayers in the initial stages of the GST regime. These initiatives sought to enhance compliance, streamline the tax system, and offer respite to businesses amid a challenging period.

Key updates that took place in the 41st GST Council Meeting are as follows:

  1. Reintroduction of GST Amnesty Scheme

The GST Council granted approval for the reinstatement of the GST amnesty scheme, presenting taxpayers with a chance to address prior non-compliance within the GST framework. Termed the GST Amnesty Scheme 2020, its purpose was to motivate taxpayers to voluntarily disclose any lapses in filings, payments, or other deviations without being subjected to severe penalties or legal actions.

This initiative aimed to foster transparency and compliance by offering a lenient avenue for rectification. Importantly, the scheme was inclusive, extending its benefits to all taxpayers, irrespective of whether they had participated in previous amnesty schemes.

Key Features of the GST Amnesty Scheme 2020

  • Taxpayers had the choice to voluntarily disclose any prior non-compliance with GST.
  • Previously paid late fees would be waived.
  • Taxpayers were obligated to settle only the outstanding tax liability, with no additional interest or penalties.
  • The scheme was applicable within a limited timeframe, spanning from August 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020.
  1. Rationalization of Late Fees

The GST Council streamlined late fees for instances of GST non-compliance, intending to alleviate the load on taxpayers and enhance overall compliance. The revised late fee system was simplified and standardized across various taxpayer categories for increased consistency.

Key Features of the Rationalized Late Fee Structure

  • In the case of delayed submission of GSTR-1 (return of sales), the late fee underwent a reduction from Rs. 100 per day to Rs. 50 per day.
  • Regarding the belated filing of GSTR-3B (monthly summary return), the late fee was diminished from Rs. 100 per day to Rs. 25 per day for small taxpayers (with a turnover up to Rs. 5 crore) and Rs. 50 per day for other taxpayers.
  • For overdue tax payments, the late fee experienced a reduction from 18% of the tax amount to 9% of the tax amount.
  1.  IGST Exemption for COVID-19 Equipment

As a pivotal initiative to bolster the healthcare sector amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the GST Council granted an exemption on Integrated GST (IGST) for the import of COVID-19 treating equipment and relief materials.

This waiver, operational from June 29, 2020, to August 31, 2021, was designed to lower the expenses associated with importing critical medical supplies, thereby ensuring sufficient availability of these items to effectively combat the ongoing pandemic.

Items Covered by the IGST Exemption

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) kits
  • Ventilators
  • Oxygen concentrators
  • COVID-19 testing kits
  • Other medical equipment and supplies specifically notified by the government

The removal of IGST marked a substantial step in tackling the immediate hurdles confronted by the healthcare sector amid the pandemic. It played a crucial role in alleviating the financial burden on hospitals, medical institutions, and healthcare providers.

  1. Extension of Time Limit for Filing Annual Returns

The GST Council prolonged the deadline for submitting annual returns (GSTR-9) for the fiscal year 2019-20, extending it from October 31, 2020, to January 31, 2021. This extension was authorized to afford taxpayers extra time to fulfill their filing obligations, recognizing the impediments posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Facilitation of Input Tax Credit

The GST Council implemented initiatives to enhance the accessibility of input tax credit (ITC), a vital tool for businesses to mitigate their tax obligations. These measures encompassed the simplification of the ITC claiming process for small taxpayers and granting taxpayers the option to submit amended returns for rectifying errors or omissions pertaining to ITC claims.

  1. Simplification of GST Registration Process

The GST Council simplified the GST registration procedure for taxpayers by enhancing the user-friendliness of the online registration portal and minimizing the documentation requirements. These modifications were geared towards rendering the GST regime more accessible and less cumbersome, particularly for newly established businesses.

  1. Extension of Time Limit for Composition Scheme

The GST Council prolonged the deadline for selecting the GST composition scheme, a simplified tax compliance choice for small businesses, from March 31, 2020, to March 31, 2021. This extension was aimed at affording eligible businesses additional time to evaluate the appropriateness of the composition scheme and make well-informed decisions.

Outcomes

Issue Update
Compensation shortfall States provided with two options to meet the shortfall: (i) Borrowing from a special window (ii) Extending compensation cess beyond 2022
GST amnesty scheme Reintroduced to provide an opportunity for taxpayers to rectify past non-compliance
Rationalization of late fees Late fees for GST non-compliance were rationalized, with a focus on easing the burden on small taxpayers
IGST exemption for COVID-19 equipment IGST exempted on imports of COVID-19 treating equipment and relief materials up to August 31, 2021
Extension of time limit for filing annual returns Time limit for filing annual returns extended to January 31, 2021
Facilitation of input tax credit Measures introduced to simplify the process of availing input tax credit (ITC)
Simplification of GST registration process GST registration process streamlined to make it more user-friendly and reduce the number of documents required
Extension of time limit for composition scheme Time limit for opting for the GST composition scheme extended to March 31, 2021

 

Also Read: GST Notifications & Instructions: Summary and Key Updates of June 2020

Options for Addressing Compensation Shortfall

The GST Council presented states with two choices to address the compensation shortfall resulting from GST implementation:

Option 1: Special Window Borrowing

States could opt to borrow from a special window provided by the Centre, with repayment facilitated through future cess collections.

Option 2: Extension of Compensation Cess Beyond 2022

To ensure continuous compensation payments, this option suggested prolonging the compensation cess period beyond its initial expiration in June 2022.

This decision to offer states these compensation bridge options marked a significant outcome, acknowledging the financial challenges states faced due to GST implementation and providing sustainable support.

Measures for Enhanced Compliance and Reduced Taxpayer Burden

The GST Council sanctioned measures to boost GST compliance and ease the burden on taxpayers, including:

  • Revival of GST Amnesty Scheme

This scheme’s revival allowed taxpayers to rectify past non-compliance without severe penalties, fostering improved compliance and heightened tax revenue.

  • Rationalization of Late Fees

Adjustments to late fees enhanced taxpayer-friendliness and reduced financial penalties for delayed filings or payments, promoting compliance and punctual tax payments.

  • Extended Time Limit for Annual Returns

Extending the annual return filing deadline offered taxpayers more time for compliance, particularly beneficial during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Facilitation of Input Tax Credit

Streamlining input tax credit utilization simplified the process and lightened compliance burdens for businesses, enhancing cash flow and encouraging timely tax payments.

Supporting the Healthcare Sector Amid COVID-19

The GST Council implemented measures to aid the healthcare sector during the pandemic, notably:

  • IGST Exemption for COVID-19 Equipment

Exempting IGST on COVID-19 equipment imports lowered costs, ensuring ample availability of crucial medical supplies to combat the pandemic.

These initiatives underscore the GST Council’s dedication to supporting the healthcare sector during a critical period, extending relief to hospitals, medical institutions, and healthcare providers.

The results of the 41st GST Council Meeting exerted a notable influence on both the GST framework and state finances. The choices extended to states to address the compensation shortfall, the endorsed measures for enhancing compliance and alleviating the taxpayer burden, along with the initiatives supporting the healthcare sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic, collectively constituted substantial advancements that steered the course of the GST regime.

Also Read:

40th GST Council Meeting Highlights, Updates, Outcome and More

Late Fees And Penalties For Non-Compliance In GSTR-10

Additional Thoughts

The 41st GST Council Meeting held great importance in addressing a single agenda of compensation shortfall faced by states and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council gave it much demanded immediate attention and took necessary steps.

The options for compensating the shortfall had a crucial impact on state finances. Borrowing from a special window offered immediate relief, while extending the compensation cess had long-term consequences. States needed to carefully weigh the pros and cons to make informed decisions.

Measures to enhance compliance and reduce taxpayer burden were well-received. The reintroduction of the GST amnesty scheme allowed rectification without severe penalties. Rationalizing late fees and facilitating input tax credit aimed to make the GST regime more user-friendly.

Crucial steps were taken to support the healthcare sector during the pandemic. The IGST exemption on essential medical imports eased costs for hospitals and healthcare providers.

Decisions made at the meeting had the potential to shape the long-term trajectory of the GST regime in our country. The support for healthcare and financial success was the ultimate goal. Overall, the 41st GST Council Meeting exemplified the government’s commitment to addressing challenges and supporting taxpayers and the healthcare sector during critical times.

More Information

Here are some links to study about the 41st GST Council Meeting:

  • GST Council’s 41st Meeting Highlights, Updates, and Outcomes

[https://cleartax.in/s/41st-gst-council-meet-news](https://cleartax.in/s/41st-gst-council-meet-news)

  • 41st GST Council Meeting Summary Report

[https://gstcouncil.gov.in/41st-gst-council-meeting](https://gstcouncil.gov.in/41st-gst-council-meeting)

  • Highlights of the 41st GST Council Meeting

[https://gstcouncil.gov.in/41st-gst-council-meeting](https://gstcouncil.gov.in/41st-gst-council-meeting)

  • The 41st GST Council Meeting: Key Decisions and Implications

[https://cleartax.in/s/41st-gst-council-meet-news](https://cleartax.in/s/41st-gst-council-meet-news)

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Moulik Jain

I am a seasoned marketer specializing in Tax, Finance, and MSMEs who brings a wealth of hands-on experience to demystify complex subjects, providing insightful guidance for entrepreneurs and finance enthusiasts alike.

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