The Government of India had announced that the Good and Services Tax, set to roll out on July 1, will have a benign effect on household budgets with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley declaring that its impact will not be “inflammatory” and in some cases, the prices will even plunge.
Consumer products like milk, fruits and vegetables, jaggery or gur, foodgrain and cereals have been exempted from the tax as they are daily products used by the common man. However, the government’s promise that day-to-day products will attract zero tax has fallen short of accomplishment as taxes have been imposed on goods for differently-abled people.
The Preamble of the Constitution embodies the concept of social justice and equality of status and opportunity to all the people of India. The disabled citizens have the same rights to a decent standard of living, economic security, work, education, employment and communication, as other citizens. If for normal citizens’ consumer goods, GST rate is zero then why should the GST rate for goods used by the differently abled for survival and access not be zero as well?
The differently abled already face exclusion from the mainstream society due to the prevalent bias against them. Burdening them with GST will only add to their misery.
At present, aids and implements used by handicapped persons as components and parts thereof attract zero percentage VAT, as per Maharashtra government, Kerala government, etc. Similar is the position of most Indian states where goods used by differently abled people are exempt from taxes.
In most international countries such goods are not only exempted but the manufacture of such goods are also given a refund of input tax credit which goes in making or producing goods required by the differently-abled so that the overall cost of the products is reduced.
The cost of living for the differently abled is relatively higher in a country like India, considering that major public modes of transportation are not accessible to them. People with disability who are educated and live in metropolitan cities prefer to travel by own vehicles as public transports are not wheelchair accessible. In such a scenario, the GST rate of 18% on wheelchairs, which are like cars for the physically handicapped, is not justifiable. GST rate should be revised to zero to encourage people with disability to enter the mainstream society and get jobs.
In this endeavour, we are proposing to the government of India through a petition that a separate HSN (Harmonized System Nomenclature) code for all the commodities and parts which are used to make basic everyday goods for the differently abled so that these products are categorised without any confusion. Additionally, the rate of GST on such goods should be nil.
The question that we’re raising here is – ‘If it is, in fact, One Nation One Tax, then why are taxes on the differently abled people being imposed when it did not exist earlier?’
The Logical Indian community urges people to come forward and sign the petition if they agree that goods for the differently abled people are daily products needed for their basic survival.
You can sign the petition here.
Written by – Chirag Chauhan. He is a chartered accountant and the founder of CA Chauhan & Co, Chartered Accountants. His areas of expertise are Income Tax, Indirect Tax, Statutory Audit, Corporate Laws, Internal Audit and Risk Assessment