India becomes latest country to scrap tax on sanitary towels

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India's interim finance minister, Piyush Goyal, said today: 'I am sure all mothers and sisters will be very happy to hear that sanitary pads are now 100 percent exempt from tax'.

Sanitary napkins were taxed 12 percent tax under the one-year-old GST regime, which attracted serious criticism from various quarters.

And now sanitary pads will not fall under any category of Good and Services Tax.

Unlike cement, sanitary napkins, which have been exempt from GST, are not intermediate products. "Rakhis have been exempted from GST, tax on ethanol has been cut to 5 per cent, small handicrafts have been exempted", Goyal said. Previously, they were taxed at 12 percent when the GST was launched in July 2017.

"Radio Mirchi's RJ Charu posted this funky picture of a pad that looks too cool for school, while comic Sumukhi Suresh kept it simple with her tweet that just said: "#lahukalagaan maaf" (tax on blood waived).

The highest tax bracket of 28 per cent has been rationalised further with rates on daily-use items like perfumes, cosmetics, toiletries, hair dryers, shavers, mixer grinder, vacuum cleaners, lithium ion batteries, being lowered to 18 per cent. Foreign manufacturers, however, would not be subject to input taxes and will also not have to pay any GST, putting them at a massive advantage.

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While Goyal did not specify the quantum of revenue loss, Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the impact of rate cut on white goods alone would be '6,000 crore. Yet a few have raised questions about what the new rate will actually mean, and why the government had spent the a year ago arguing that a lower tax rate would be a bad thing. Those yet to register under GST will be given extension till August 31 without late penalty.

It was meant to unify India's economy into a single market, with four tax rates of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent.

Tax filers with an annual turnover of less than Rs. 5 crore a year need to file returns on a quarterly basis while paying tax on a monthly basis. While the changes will offer relief to the middle-income households and small businesses, sources say the government stands to lose revenue to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore. Political compulsions may have led to some decisions, but the overall direction to lower rates and ease compliance is right and is likely to boost collections. Between Rs 2,500 to below Rs 7,500 GST is levied at 18 per cent and that of Rs 1,000 and below Rs 2,500 it is 12 per cent.

This is the fourth time since the roll out of the GST that the Council, chaired by Union Finance Minister and comprising state counterparts, has rationalised rates.

Earlier, the council had revised tax rates on 29 items in January.

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