The GST Council, in its upcoming meeting, scheduled to be held on May 28, is likely to take a call on levy of 12 per cent tax on import of oxygen concentrators for personal use.
The Delhi High Court last week said that imposition of 12 per cent Integrated GST (IGST) on oxygen concentrators for personal use or those received as gifts is "unconstitutional".
The Court's observation came on a plea filed by an 85-year old COVID patient whose relative had sent oxygen concentrator from the US.
It also quashed a May 1 notification of the Finance Ministry which said that a 12 per cent IGST will be levied on oxygen concentrators imported for personal use or gift.
Sources said the final decision on this issue would be taken by the Council in its upcoming meeting on Friday. Tax experts said that the Council may decide to exempt IGST on such imports as the revenue implications would not be much.
Abhishek Jain, Tax Partner, EY, said, the government had already provided exemption from IGST on free import of oxygen concentrators for COVID relief by any state government or any agency authorised by the state government.
"The Delhi High Court has beneficially extended the benefit of this IGST exemption to personal import as gifts for individual use as well. Given the enormity of the pandemic situation and as a life saving measure and given that the revenue loss for the government may not be significant, the government may consider accepting the judgement and extending the benefit," Jain added.
AMRG & Associates Senior Partner Rajat Mohan said collecting tariffs on medical equipment, medicines, and vaccines, scarcity of which is leading to the death of millions, is against the nation's fundamental principles.
"Lowering prices for Covid related material is needed, and neutralising tax on all such imports is one such effective method that would have an immediate trickle-down effect on the entire supply chain," Mohan added.
The council in its May 28 meeting also likely to discuss tax rate cuts on Covid essentials, besides compensation shortfall of states.
Opposition parties Congress and Trinamool Congress had demanded that all life-saving drugs, equipment and instruments required to treat COVID-19 patients must be exempted from GST.
The Centre had earlier ruled out exempting COVID vaccines, medicines and oxygen concentrators from levy of GST tax saying such an exemption will make the lifesaving items costlier for consumers as manufacturers will not be able to offset the taxes paid on inputs.
Currently, domestic supplies and commercial imports of vaccines attract a 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST), while COVID drugs and oxygen concentrators attract a 12 per cent levy.
The government had on May 1 slashed IGST rate to 12 per cent, from 28 per cent, for import of concentrators for personal use. The reduced rate would be applicable up to June 30.
IGST rate on import of oxygen concentrator for commercial use too is taxed at 12 per cent.
Under Goods and Services Tax (GST), the tax levied on consumption of goods or rendering of service is split 50:50 between the Centre and the state. Such tax is known as Central-GST or CGST and State-GST or SGST.
On inter-state movement of goods as well as imports, an Integrated-GST or IGST is levied, which accrues to the Centre. The amount paid as IGST can be utilised by businesses for claiming credit while making CGST or SGST payments at the time of actual sale.