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The ministerial panel on online gaming, casinos and race-course appointed by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council met on Tuesday but could not arrive at a consensus on a tax framework for these industries.

With members of the panel led by Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma holding on to their positions, the final decision on the tax regime will be with the GST Council. 

“The group of ministers met today but there is no consensus. The committee will give its report to the GST Council," West Bengal finance minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said in an interview to Mint.

While there is broad convergence of views within the panel for a uniform 28% GST rate for the three sectors, the base on which the tax rate should apply remains undecided. The GST Council will have the benefit of views from individual members of the ministerial panel for decision making.

An earlier report prepared by the ministerial panel had said that no distinction should be made between casinos, race courses and online gaming for the purpose of levy of GST merely on the ground that an activity is a game of skill or of chance or both.

Currently, online gaming firms pay 18% GST, backed by court orders in the absence of clarity on the subject. Businesses argue that these are games of skill rather than betting or gambling.

This is one of the contentious areas of indirect taxation. The other area where the GST regime is facing litigation is the anti-profiteering provision which mandates businesses and traders to immediately pass on to consumers benefit of any reduction in tax rate or availability of input tax credit. The constitutional validity of this provision is challenged in the Delhi High Court. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gireesh Chandra Prasad

Gireesh has over 22 years of experience in business journalism covering diverse aspects of the economy, including finance, taxation, energy, aviation, corporate and bankruptcy laws, accounting and auditing.
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