Feminine hygiene now tax-free in India; sanitary napkins out of GST net

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Apart from a 100 per cent waiver of GST on sanitary pads, the council has chose to nullify tax on raw materials such as stone, marble and wood, used by for making handicrafts like sculptures.

28th meeting of the GST Council begins in New Delhi. Previously, the sanitary pads were kept under the 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) slab.

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.

Sanitary pads were placed in the 12% tax slab when the Goods and Services Tax was implemented on July 1, 2017, though several other products such as sindoor (vermilion) and bangles were declared tax-free.

It is expected that the council would decide on revision of tax rates on vending machines and lithium ion batteries among others.

I think the 28 percent tax slab should be done away with.

Handloom items such as knitted caps priced below Rs 1,000 will now attract a lower GST rate of 5 percent.

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Two simplified forms for GST returns, Sugam and Sahaj, have also been approved for business-to-business and business-to-consumer enterprises by the GST Council. Before the festival of Rakshabandhan, the GST Council has also chose to exempt rakhis without gold, precious and semi-precious stones from GST.

Fortified milk has also been fully exempted from GST.

"GST Council cuts tax rate on an array of products. These rationalisations also are, in a way, recognition of the support shown by taxpayers and businesses towards GST collection", Goyal said.

Goyal asserted on the importance of reducing the tax on ethanol, as not only is it used for blending with petrol and diesel, it is also vital for the sugar industry, and will thus be very beneficial for the sugarcane farmers. He said, besides revenue collection, the GST council will now focus on job creation as well.

The finance minister also said the GST Council has chose to focus on issues concerning the broader economy such as job creation rather than only on revenue targeting.

Tax filers with an annual turnover of less than ₹5 crore a year need to file returns on a quarterly basis while paying tax on a monthly basis.

The decisions taken on Saturday were aimed at simplification, rationalisation and relief for small business, Goyal said.