The announcement their campaign had been successful was made by India's interim finance minister, Piyush Goyal, who said he was "sure all mothers and sisters will be very happy to hear that sanitary pads are now 100% exempt from tax".
Sanitary pads were taxed at 12 percent under the GST, which was launched a year ago.
The council also approved a simplified return filing mechanism wherein all taxpayers, excluding small taxpayers, will now file one monthly return with two main tables - one for reporting outward supplies and one for availing input tax credit based on invoices uploaded by the supplier.
The GST charged for commodities such as lithium-ion batteries, vacuum cleaners, food grinders, mixers, storage water heaters, head dryers, hand dryers, paint, varnishes, water cooler, milk cooler, ice cream coolers, perfumes, toilet sprays and other toiletries has been slashed from 28 per cent to 18 per cent. "It has also been decided that the GST Council will rise above revenue consideration and focus more on job creation and economic growth", said Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, as reported by The Indian Express.
Sources, however, said the tax rate reduction is likely to cost around Rs 8,000-10,000 crore annually to the exchequer.
"Out of the 49 items now taxed at the highest rate of 28%, rates on 17 have been reduced to 18%", Pratik Jain, partner & leader, indirect tax, PwC, said in a note.
It's ridiculous to remember that Maneka Gandhi was ever of the opinion that 12 percent tax was alright as long as Self-Help Groups (SHGs) were encouraged to make their own biodegradable pads.
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The tax rate on ethanol blended with petrol, footwear costing up to 1,000 rupees and fertiliser grade phosphoric acid has been cut to from 12 to 5 percent, Goyal said. "Simplification and rationalisation has been given maximum priority", Goyal said while briefing reporters after the 28th GST Council meeting here.
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. 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. "The decision was taken by the GST Council in which Congress-led governments are also involved".
"This is a major step towards rationalising the 28 per cent tax slab, which has been narrowed to only a few commodities in the past 13 months", Jaitley tweeted.
Union minister Smriti Irani lauded the council for exempting sanitary napkin from the GST.
The next GST Council meeting will be held on August 4.
Earlier, the council had revised tax rates on 29 items in January.