Online RMG: Review of 28% tax regime by GST Council only after general elections

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The money gaming sector will now have to wait until after a new central government is elected for a review of the 28 per cent goods and services tax (GST) imposed last October.

On August 2, 2023, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while announcing 28 per GST on full face value for online money gaming, casinos, and horse racing, had said that the recommendation would be reviewed six months after the date of implementation i.e., October 1. The six-month period ends on March 30.

However, the Election Commission of India is expected to announce the dates for the general elections 2024 next week, following which the election code of conduct will come into effect. Government cannot take any major policy decisions when model code of conduct is in place, unless in exceptional cases where the decision will have to vetted by the election body.

The Procedure and Conduct of Business Regulations of the GST Council says, “The Council shall meet at least once in every quarter of the financial year.” Further, notice of the meeting shall be sent at least 7 days prior to the date of the meeting of the Council.

Ever since the implementation of GST in 2017, only one general election took place in 2019 when a GST Council meet was held during the Model Code of Conduct where only operational aspects were discussed.

Union Revenue Secretary Sanjay Malhotra in a post budget interview to CNBC TV 18 recently said online money gaming platforms are paying Rs. 1200 crores per month GST on an average from 1st October, 2023 since the new GST regime of 28% on deposits was introduced compared to Rs. 200 crores per month on an average that they were paying before the new regime came in (18% on platform fees).