How GST has helped the real estate sector to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic?

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The GST has transformed India’s residential real estate environment, notably amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Before GST, homebuyers had to deal with indirect taxes like VAT, Entry Tax, Central Excise, Octroi, Service Tax, and LBT, making real estate transactions complicated and expensive.

GST simplified this complicated tax structure, revolutionizing it. It vastly streamlined the tax code, making residential real estate transactions more transparent and efficient. The creation of a single GST real estate simplified processes and removed overlapping taxes, making home buying easier.

This tax reform helped the real estate business recover from the pandemic’s economic damage. GST’s uniform tax system has strengthened the sector’s agility. The Indian government’s simplified tax structure shows its commitment to fostering the real estate sector, increasing transparency, and relieving homeowners’ financial burden.

GST’s Required Status in Real Estate

A comprehensive indirect tax was required to replace several levies due to three key reasons. First of all, during development and acquisition, developers and homebuyers were burdened with cascading taxes, sometimes known as taxes upon taxes. Second, non-uniform tax rates among states caused problems with compliance for projects that were geographically dispersed. Finally, opaque taxation encouraged dishonest behavior that involved faking figures at the expense of final customers.

GST’s Role in Simplification

The goal of the July 2017 implementation of GST was to streamline the tax system, solving issues of transparency, cost, and compliance for developers while also lowering the barrier to homeownership for consumers. Different indirect taxes were replaced with a single tax system, which enabled developers to claim the Input Tax Credit (ITC) for the GST they spent on building materials. By streamlining the procedure, tax compliance was increased and overall project development expenses were decreased.

  • Pre-GST Tax Intricacies

Value Added Tax (VAT), Entry Tax, Central Excise, Octroi, Service Tax, and LBT were among the many indirect taxes that the real estate industry had to deal with before the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). This complex tax system created difficulties for developers as well as increased transaction complexity for buyers, resulting in a cascade of tax-related problems and inconsistent tax rates between states.

  • Streamlining the Tax System for Real Estate

With the implementation of the GST, a unified tax system took the place of this complex tax environment. The dynamics of GST’s role in real estate recovery were significantly altered by this all-inclusive tax system, which also streamlined the taxing procedure and improved the transparency of the financial system.

  • Less Financial Stress for Homeowners

Homebuyers were relieved when the many indirect tax complexities were eliminated with the changeover to the GST. Unlike earlier tax systems, GST only applied to properties that were still under development. Plots and ready-to-move-in properties were GST-exempt, which lowers the total cost of ownership for customers. Real estate transactions became easier and less expensive after the removal of service tax on plots and ready-to-move properties.

  • After the GST

The real estate business is still adapting to the GST, producing a more open, effective, and consumer-friendly environment. GST’s tax code simplification has increased real estate transactions and made homeownership more affordable. The GST revolutionized real estate taxation with the Input Tax Credit and the elimination of various indirect taxes.

Savings for Developers and Purchasers of Homes

By using the ITC to offset output tax against material tax paid, developers benefited. For example, a developer would only pay INR 5,000 in output tax if they paid INR 15,000 in GST on building materials for a completed product priced at INR 20,000. For homebuyers, this multi-level cost savings translated into benefits.

Plots and ready-to-move-in properties were less expensive to buy because of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which was limited to properties that were still under construction. This change promoted justice and transparency in real estate transactions by ensuring that buyers would not be unjustly assessed for taxes that were not applicable.

  • Economies of Cost with the Input Tax Credit (ITC)

For real estate developers as well as homebuyers, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) brought in a new era of cost-effectiveness. Developers were able to drastically lower their tax loads by balancing the output tax against the taxes spent on construction supplies with the introduction of the Input Tax Credit (ITC).

For instance, the ITC method allowed a developer to pay only INR 5,000 in output tax if they had to spend INR 15,000 on building supplies for a final product that was priced at INR 20,000. This multi-tiered cost-cutting technique resulted in significant financial benefits for purchasers in addition to streamlining tax compliance for developers.

  • GST Implemented Selectively

GST was applied selectively to properties that were still under construction, in contrast to the complex tax regimes of the past. Plots and ready-to-move properties were free from GST thanks to this selective application, which significantly lowered the total cost of buying these properties. The GST on ready-to-move residences and plots was repealed to promote fairness and transparency in real estate transactions and protect homebuyers from unnecessary charges.

This tax code adjustment made the GST role in the real estate recovery market more accessible and helped buyers feel less financially stressed. The GST’s careful implementation pushed taxation closer to property development phases, enabling a more cost-effective real estate strategy.

Also Read: GST On Joint Development Agreement

Effects on Rental Income and Rent

captainbiz effects on rental income and rent

Landlords were exempt from paying GST on rental revenue from residential properties under the GST. However, if the property was rented out for business, an 18% GST was applicable. Under the GST system, the applicability barrier rose from INR 10 lakh to INR 20 lakh from the service tax regime.

Let’s examine the details of how landlords were affected by GST and the tax ramifications of renting out real estate.

  • GST Not Applicable to Residential Rental Income

Landlords were excused from paying GST on rental revenue from residential properties used as places of residence under the GST. This exemption focused on the residential nature of the property and applied to landlords who rented out their houses for residential use.

For example, Mr. Sharma earns INR 15,000 a month from the exclusive residential rental of his residence. According to GST legislation, there is no GST on this home rental income, which gives landlords relief in certain situations.

  • GST on Business Uses of Rental Income

On the other hand, if the property was rented out for business use, it was considered a provision of services and was subject to an 18% GST rate. The purpose of this GST on rental income related to the company is to harmonize with the larger idea of taxing services under the GST regime.

For instance, XYZ Corporation pays INR 50,000 a month to rent a commercial space for its office. The commercial rental revenue is subject to a GST rate of 18%, which corresponds to the GST treatment of properties leased for business or commercial use.

  • Higher Barrier to GST Applicability

The threshold for the GST’s applicability on rental income was one significant modification. Landlords were required to pay service tax under the former service tax regime if their rental income surpassed INR 10 lakh. Landlords with comparatively lower rental earnings found relief when this threshold was significantly raised to INR 20 lakh with the implementation of GST.

For instance, Mrs. Kapoor’s residential properties generate INR 18 lakh in rental income per year. Mrs. Kapoor is exempt from paying GST on her residential rental income due to the raised threshold of INR 20 lakh since her income is below the prescribed amount.

Updated GST Rates and House Acquisitions

The tax rates on real estate transactions were significantly altered at the 33rd GST Council Meeting. The updated tariffs were intended to lower upfront costs for homeowners. For residential properties outside of the affordable housing segment, the GST rates were set at 5%, and for affordable housing properties, at 1%, in the absence of the Input Tax Credit (ITC).

Homebuyers gained some indirect benefits from the removal of the GST ITC. By removing unused ITC from project expenses, developers could no longer raise property rates, guaranteeing more equitable pricing, particularly in the affordable housing market.

Updated GST Rates: Beneficial for Home Purchasers

Residential properties that did not fit under the affordable housing section were liable to 5% GST without ITC once the GST was implemented, as opposed to 12% GST with ITC previously. Instead of the former 8% with ITC, affordable housing properties were subject to a reduced GST of 1% without ITC.

For homebuyers, lower upfront expenditures were favorable. For instance, the entire cost of a property priced at INR 1 crore would be INR 1.05 crore if a 5% tax was applied, or INR 5 lakh. Significantly, this was INR 7 lakh less than what it would have cost under the former tax system. Similar savings were seen in affordable housing projects, which increased demand in the real estate market.

Also Read: How To Calculate GST On Property Purchase?

Advantages Above and Beyond Direct Cost Saving

Less evident benefits resulted from the removal of the GST ITC. In theory, developers were expected to transfer the benefits of the ITC to buyers of real estate, but this was not always the case. Without openly accounting for these benefits for end users, developers would tack on unused ITC to project costs. Fairer property prices resulted from the elimination of this conflict of interest when the ITC was removed from the GST.

Effect on Continuing Initiatives and the Broader Ecosystem

By May 20, 2019, developers had the opportunity to select between the old and new rates for active projects. This option gave developers the ability to choose the tax structure for their projects, and it applied to unfinished projects as of March 31, 2019.

Lower upfront expenses would help the broader real estate ecosystem and boost buyer confidence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Homebuyers were also encouraged by additional initiatives such as implementing Section 80EEA for first-time affordable property buyers and raising the tax deduction maximum on home loan interest repayment.

Government Reaction and Industry Suggestions

Players in the industry demanded more actions and suggested a temporary 50% GST cut on building supplies. By allowing producers and sellers to keep more of their earnings from transactions, this cut was intended to increase intersectoral activity.

Regardless of how the government reacts to suggestions from the industry, GST has improved stakeholder efficiency, openness, and trust. Early market responses to interest rate adjustments point to a high-growth future for the Indian real estate sector, which will support a stronger and more dynamic economy.

Bottom Line

During the COVID-19 epidemic, the real estate industry has been significantly impacted by GST. In addition to streamlining intricate systems, the tax change gave developers and homeowners financial relief, which increased demand and breathed new life into the sector. GST is still essential in determining how the real estate industry will recover and expand as it faces post-pandemic obstacles.

Also Read: The Impact Of GST On The Post-COVID Indian Economy


  • How has GST helped the real estate sector recover from COVID-19?

The GST has transformed India’s residential real estate, especially during the pandemic. It simplified the complex tax structure, making transactions transparent and efficient, and helping the industry recover.

  • Why did real estate need GST?

GST addressed cascading taxes throughout development, non-uniform state tax rates, and dishonesty by replacing various charges. The change sought transparency, efficiency, and compliance.

  • How did GST simplify real estate taxes?

Developers can claim the Input Tax Credit (ITC) for construction supplies under GST, which replaced indirect taxes in July 2017. It expedited processes, increased transparency, and reduced project development costs.

  • What made pre-GST real estate tax systems complicated?

Before GST real estate transactions involved VAT, Entry Tax, Central Excise, Octroi, Service Tax, and LBT. These complexities made development difficult and buyer transactions more complicated.

  • How did GST ease purchaser finances?

GST-free plots and ready-to-move properties, helping homebuyers. Since GST only applied to under-construction properties, real estate transactions were cheaper and simpler.

  • How did the ITC help developers and homebuyers?

ITC offset output tax against material tax, decreasing developers’ tax burden. This method saved homebuyers money, promoting cost-effective real estate.

  • How did GST affect real estate rent and income?

Rental revenue from residential properties utilized for residence was GST-exempt for landlords. If the property was rented for business, a GST of 18% was applied, in line with GST’s taxation on services.

  • How does increasing the GST applicability threshold affect rental income?

The GST threshold for rental income rose from INR 10 lakh to INR 20 lakh, helping landlords with smaller rental revenue. This cut landlord costs and facilitated tax compliance.

  • How did GST affect real estate taxes and purchases?

The GST Council Meeting set residential tax rates at 5% and affordable housing at 1% without ITC. This decreased homebuyers’ upfront costs and enhanced real estate demand.

  • How did GST affect the real estate industry and initiatives?

GST allowed developers to select between old and new rates, affecting active projects. Lower upfront costs helped the real estate ecosystem, while industry requests for a temporary 50% GST decrease boosted intersectoral activity, efficiency, and confidence.

author avatar
Aaryan Singh
B.Com degree with finance and accounting Specialisation in Goods and Service Tax (GST) and taxation system Completed certification course on GST from ICAI in 2022 Online GST practitioner course completed in 2023 from Indian Institute of Skill Development and Training.

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