Budget 2017: Arun Jaitley may hike service tax to 16-18%

Tax slabs decided for the GST are 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley may hike service tax rate to 16-18 per cent from the current 15 per cent in the Budget 2017, due on Wednesday, as a precursor to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout.

The move, that will make flying, eating out, phone bills and a host of other services expensive, would be an attempt to take the rates closer to the proposed tax slabs for GST.

GST, which will subsume central and state levies like excise duty, service tax and VAT, is scheduled to be rolled out from July 1.

The tax slabs decided for the GST are 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent and taking service tax closer to one of the slabs is a logical move in the Budget, tax experts said.

Tax experts say, Jaitley, who had in his previous budget hiked service tax rate by 0.5 per cent to 15 per cent, may raise the levy by at least one percentage point to 16 per cent.

Some others feel there could be different service tax rates with a lower 12 per cent for basic services and a higher 18 per cent for the rest.

Also, a higher service tax for April-June will help the government garner more revenue to meet expenses on schemes and programmes it may be planning to contain the impact of demonetisation.

A service tax rate closer to the GST rate will also help consumers avoid a greater price shock when the new national sales tax is rolled out. Read more

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