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Introduction to Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Before the introduction of GST, the tax system in India was fragmented and opaque. Cascading of taxes was a problem for everyone in the supply chain. Merchants had to pay more than what they should have due to the complexity of tax calculations. To promote economic integration and simplify compliance, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill was introduced, and the GST Council was formed in September 2016.

The GST network is the backbone of the GST system, enabling technology integration for registration, filing of returns, and tax payments. In this blog, we will explore Chapter 49 GST classification, in more detail.

Explaining Chapter 49 in GST

The Chapter 49  GST compliance guidelines correspond to the taxation on printed books, newspapers, and other products generated by the printing industry. In this blog, you will also learn more about tax exemptions, compliance requirements, and rates related to printed materials. This is important for companies that deal with printing and distribution in India.

Under Chapter 49, the regulations are applicable for different types of printed material produced with the use of a duplicating machine or automatic data processing machine. Any material that is photographed, thermocopied, photocopied, typewritten or embossed will be subjected to the regulations in Chapter 49.

However, this classification excludes the following:

  • Photographic negatives or positives on transparent bases
  • Playing cards
  • Globes, maps, or plans in relief
  • Original prints, lithographs, and engravings
  • Stamp postmarks
  • Revenue or postage stamps
  • Postal stationery
  • Antiques older than a hundred years 
  • Other articles classified under Chapter 97

Classification of Goods under Chapter 49

The GST rates for goods are determined based on the type of goods. Not all printed goods are taxed at the same rate. Let us explore the GST Chapter 49 goods list and their GST rates.

0% GST

The GST rate on some types of printed goods is nil. These include:

  • Non-judicial and judicial stamp paper
  • Court fee stamps sold by the government or authorised vendors
  • Postal items sold by the government
  • Coins or rupee notes sold to the RBI or to the government
  • Printed books
  • Periodicals, journals, and newspapers
  • Children’s colouring books, drawing books and picture books
  • Music
  • Duty credit scrips

5% GST

Leaflets, brochures, and other similar printed material are charged at 5% GST.

12% GST

Printed maps or hydrographic charts are charged at 12% GST.

18% GST

A GST rate of 18% is applied on the following printed products:

  • Drawings and plans for architectural, engineering, commercial, industrial, topographical uses, etc. 
  • Unused revenue, postage, or similar stamps of new issue in the country 
  • Stamp-impressed paper
  • Cheque forms
  • Banknotes
  • Stock, share, or bond certificates
  • Other documents of title (except Duty credit scrips)
  • Cheques
  • Transfers (decalcomanias)
  • Postcards
  • Printed cards
  • Printed calendars (including calendar blocks)
  • Printed photographs and pictures 
  • Trade advertising material
  • Commercial catalogues
  • Printed posters
  • Printed inlay cards

Also Read: GST Rate Updates 2024 – Goods And Service Tax Rates

Understanding the Importance of Chapter 49 GST

Chapter 49 of the HSN code details all the tax implications on paper products, an integral part of our lives. The following points highlight the importance of this chapter:

Uniform Taxation

The clear-cut guidelines impose uniformity in taxation. Ensuring that the taxing system is uniform for the printing industry is crucial for tax compliance. This reduces tax-related complexities for businesses. The HSN codes play a crucial role in determining tax for import and export businesses in the print and publishing industries.

Growth of the Publishing Industry

Reducing GST to 0% for certain types of printed materials like books encourages publishers to print more. This fosters reading in the community. It provides publishers a chance to create and disseminate knowledge.

Effective Cost Management

With the advent of the internet, the publishing industry is having a hard time getting people to buy and use printed material. The guidelines pertaining to Chapter 49 enable publishers to manage their costs and understand their tax liability. It helps them avoid financial losses.

Consumer Benefits

Consumers know exactly how much they need to pay with the new GST tax system in place. This results in lower costs with no tax cascading. The streamlined tax procedures improve tax compliance, and the savings can be passed on to the customer.

Compliance and Regulations under Chapter 49

Any business involved in the print industry must understand the guidelines and implications of Chapter 49. The HNS code has uniquely identified the product and its corresponding GST taxation. Chapter 49 includes printed materials like newspapers, books, pictures, and other products created by the printing industry.

Every registered GST business must use the appropriate HSN code for the supply of goods and services. Identifying the right HSN is crucial. The product pricing can be determined based on the associated GST. For suppliers, using the guidelines in Chapter 49 allows them to collect the tax amount using an invoice. Even when the GST rate is 0%, suppliers must mention the HSN code of the goods and state the GST as 0%.

For buyers, purchasing printed material is crucial for their business operations. Knowing the correct classification based on the HSN code will help purchasers offset their tax liabilities with tax paid. As tax varies from 0% to 18%, identifying the right HSN code is crucial to ensure accurate ITC claims.

Understanding Chapter 49 guidelines is important for businesses because when tax rates are reduced, businesses must pass the benefits to the consumers. This is to ensure compliance with anti-profiteering guidelines. Also, income tax returns have to be filed by businesses for supplying goods covered under Chapter 49.

Challenges and Concerns

Different types of printed materials are taxed differently under Chapter 49.

Businesses that print advertising material must pay attention to the GST on leaflets, pamphlets, or print adverts in newspapers. The diverse range of paper products can cause complexity in understanding the implications of GST. Businesses must carefully analyse the printed material types to avoid potential GST penalties.

Businesses involved in the print and publishing industries must pay attention to Chapter 49 and other chapters. The cost of goods like printing machinery, printing ink, etc, have different GST rates. Dealing with different types of products and taxation can often be challenging.

It is crucial to ensure accuracy and compliance. Using an automated GST billing software that uses the correct GST rate based on the HSN code automatically often eliminates compliance issues. Invoicing can be done directly using software like CaptainBiz, enabling businesses to quickly adapt to GST’s new compliance requirements.


The regulatory authorities continuously update GST policies and taxation rates, and ensuring compliance is key. The GST system streamlines compliance and offers clarity on tax provisions. Businesses in the print and publishing industries must understand Chapter 49 GST classification properly to use the right HSN code for their products.

CaptainBiz is an automated GST billing software that enables hassle-free GST compliance. Manage your pre-accountancy processes and streamline GST filing by leveraging CaptainBiz.

Also Read: Know Everything About GST Billing Software


  1. What products are covered under GST Chapter 49?

Different types of printed materials, such as newspapers, journals, periodicals, books, manuscripts, plans, stamps, maps, etc, are covered under GST Chapter 49.

  1. What is the GST rate for printed materials?

The GST rate for printed materials can be 0%, 5%, 12%, or 18% based on the type of product and its purpose.

  1. Are there exemptions for printed materials under GST?

Yes, certain types of printed materials, such as books and newspapers are taxed at 0%. This means that they are exempted from tax.

  1. How do we determine the right GST Chapter 49 classification?

The right classification under Chapter 49 is based on the type of product, printing method, and usage of the product. For example, duty credit scrips are exempted from tax. Other documents of title are taxed at 12%.

  1. Can I claim ITC for the purchase of printed materials?

Yes, if you have paid GST for the purchase of printed materials, you can use the guidelines in Chapter 49 to claim ITC for the same.

  1. Are invoices required for printed materials exempted from tax under Chapter 49?

Yes, even if you supply tax-exempted goods, you must issue an invoice and file those invoices while submitting income tax returns. The buyer also needs the invoices to claim the correct ITC.

  1. Are there concessions for small businesses in the publishing and print industries?

Businesses are only required to obtain GST registration if their business annual turnover exceeds a threshold limit. Otherwise, businesses need not file income tax returns. This allows small businesses to thrive without tax and compliance burdens.

  1. How does GST impact the pricing of printed materials?

The anti-profiteering requirements under GST specify that suppliers have to make changes to the pricing according to the GST rates. If the GST rate is reduced, suppliers must change the product prices to transfer the tax savings to the customer.

  1. Are there new compliance requirements for businesses in the print and publishing industries?

Similar to any GST-registered business, businesses in the publishing and print industries must issue tax invoices with the correct HSN codes and file income tax returns before the due date. There are no additional requirements, but staying up-to-date on the latest GST rates is crucial.

  1. Can anyone sell books without GST?

Printed books are tax-exempt goods, making it easier for anyone to publish and sell them. For example, a supplier can use an online marketplace such as Amazon and sell books without worrying about tax implications.

author avatar
Niharika Kapoor Content Writer
Niharika is a Freelance Content Writer and Translator with a Master of Arts in Literature. She has 5+ years of working in the same and has worked in different industries.

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