05.06.2023: On the agenda: GST Council likely to approve tribunal blueprint this month

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, which is likely to meet in the third or fourth week of June, is set to clear the operational framework of the much-awaited GST appellate tribunal, which will deal with tax disputes and streamline resolution.

“The final blueprint, mainly the operational part, is expected to be presented in the GST Council meeting for approval. This will pave the way for the tribunal to be functional, both at the central and state levels,” said a senior government official, who expects the tribunal to be up and running by November.
Groundwork was done by amending the GST law during the Budget session. The final rules will be out and changes in the state laws would be made, the official said.

“Work includes setting up Benches in each state as well as having a national appellate tribunal,” another official said.

In its February 18 meeting, the GST Council agreed to table draft legislation on the tribunal following several rounds of deliberation and consultation.

According to the legislation, the tribunal will have a “Principal Bench” in New Delhi, with a president, a judicial member, a technical member (centre), and a technical member (state).

It will also have state Benches, in accordance with the population of the states concerned. States having a population of less than 20 million can have one Bench, while those that have 20-50 million can have two.

The national appellate Bench will look mainly into disputes between the tax department and assessees over the “place of supply”. It, however, will not take up any appeal with regard to divergent rulings by state appellate tribunals.

The GST Council had accepted the report of a panel of state ministers on the tribunal with some modification. It was decided that the changes required in the GST law would be circulated to the states for their comments. Currently, taxpayers aggrieved by rulings of tax authorities are required to move high court. The resolution process takes long because high courts do not have a specialised Bench to deal with GST matters. The GST Council may also take up taxing online gaming, casinos, and races.

The matter assumes significance following a recent judgment by the Karnataka High Court, which quashed a Rs. 21,000-crore GST notice to an online gaming platform called Gameskraft.

A panel of state ministers set up to look into the taxation issue had agreed on a 28 per cent GST on online gaming. However, in the absence of a consensus on whether the tax should be levied on only the fees charged by the portal or the entire consideration, including the bet amount received from the participants, the panel decided to refer all suggestions to the GST Council in December 2022 for a final decision. The GST Council is yet to take up the matter. Sources suggested the matter might not be resolved in the upcoming meeting because the stakeholders concerned are indecisive on it.

Meanwhile, the issue in the high court proceedings was whether online games would be considered games of skill or chance. GST for the latter is 28 per cent but for the former it is 18 per cent.

Source: Business Standard 

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