A Group of Ministers (GoM) formed to analyse tax rates and issues being faced by the real estate sector under the goods and services tax (GST) regime has favoured reducing GST rate on under-construction residential properties to 5 per cent without input tax credit from current effective rate of 12 per cent, after abatement of value of land. The panel is also leaning in favour of a lower rate for affordable housing at 3 per cent from 8 per cent at present, a government official said.
The seven-member GoM, headed by Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, will finalise its recommendations in 1-2 days and then submit its recommendations to the GST Council, which will take the final decision on the proposal. “The industry players have asked for a higher rate with input tax credit but the ministers felt that the benefits of input tax credit don’t get passed on to homebuyers. That’s why like in the case of restaurants, the GoM has favoured lowering the GST rates on residential houses to 5 per cent without input tax credit and to 3 per cent for affordable housing,” the official said.
Currently, GST is levied at 12 per cent with input tax credit (ITC) on payments made for under construction property or ready to move in flats where the completion certificate has not been issued at the time of sale.
The effective pre-GST tax incidence on such housing property was 15-18 per cent. GST, however, is not levied on buyers of real estate properties for which completion certificate has been issued at the time of sale. There have been complaints that builders are not passing on the ITC benefit to consumers by way of reduction in price of the property after the rollout of the GST.
We want to ensure lower tax rates for housing for the middle class and homebuyers, Gujarat’s Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel told reporters after the meeting. Tax experts, however, said this may lead to breaking of inputs tax credit chain as some inputs such as cement are taxed at a much higher rate of 28 per cent.
Pratik Jain, Leader, Indirect Tax, PwC India said, “While the intention of the government is to provide relief to the end customer, from a structural standpoint, it should be ensured that the chain of GST credit is not broken. Perhaps a better approach would be to reduce prevailing GST rate on residential property, say bringing the effective tax rate down to 8 per cent from 12 per cent, while continuing the benefit of input tax credit.”
Abhishek Jain, Tax Partner, EY said, “For real estate properties where the cumulative impact of tax cost on account of denial in credits and 5 per cent output GST rate is lesser than the current 12 per cent rate, this rate cut would be quite positive. But where the cumulative cost is higher than 12 per cent, this rate reduction could entail an increased tax cost.”
The GST Council, headed by the Union Finance Minister and comprising his State counterparts, on January 10 decided to set up the GoM. The other Ministers in the seven-member GoM are the Finance Ministers of Maharashtra Sudhir Mungantiwar, Karnataka’s Krishna Byre Gowda, Kerala’s Thomas Isaac, Punjab’s Manpreet Singh Badal, Uttar Pradesh’s Rajesh Agarwal and Goa Panchayat Minister Mauvin Godinho.
Apart from Patel and Gondinho, Friday’s GoM meeting was attended by Mungantiwar and Badal through video conferencing. Also other state ministers, who are part of the panel, too would be giving their views in a couple of days.