Last month, Bollywood actor Rahul Bose tweeted how a Chandigarh-based five-star hotel billed him a staggering ₹442, including GST (goods and services tax), for just two bananas. The GST amount was ₹67.50—a 9% central GST of ₹33.75 and a 9% Union Territory GST of ₹33.75. The news seem to have fizzled out, but as a consumer, it’s important to know what’s the right GST amount you need to pay, and which items are exempt from GST altogether. Here are a few everyday items, across three categories, on which you don’t need to pay GST.
Food items: There is no GST on fresh or pasteurized milk, butter milk, curd, chena or paneer, and non-vegetarian items like eggs, chicken, fresh meat, and fresh or chilled fish. Fruits, vegetables, as well as unit container-packed frozen branded vegetables (uncooked or steamed) are also exempt.
Other items on this list include natural honey, hulled cereal grains like barley, wheat, oat and so on. Palmyra jaggery, all types of salt, flours like gram or pea flour, coconut, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled, all kinds of whole spices like seeds of anise, fennel, coriander, cumin or caraway, are exempt. Even items like papad, except when served for consumption, bread (branded or otherwise), and pizza bread are exempt. Water (other than aerated, mineral, purified, distilled, medicinal, ionic, battery, de-mineralized and water sold in sealed containers) have no GST.
Personal items: Several personal items too feature on the zero GST list. For instance, sanitary pads, kajal (other than kajal pencil sticks), glass and plastic bangles, hearing aids, slates, pencils, chalk sticks, passenger bags, bindi, and all types of contraceptives, including condoms.
Miscellaneous items: These mostly include stationery items and items bought from the government. For instance, picture, colouring and drawing books for children, music books, manuscripts, postal items like envelope and post cards sold by the government, newspapers, journals and periodicals, whether illustrated or containing advertising material. Maps and hydro graphic or similar charts of all kinds, including atlases, wall maps, topographical plans and globes, that are printed are also included. Cheques, loose or in a book form, printed books, including Braille books, judicial and non-judicial stamp papers, court fee stamps when sold by government treasuries or vendors authorized by the government, and rupee notes when sold to the Reserve Bank of India are part of the list.
Religious routine ritual items like rudraksha attract no GST. Even items like earthen pots, clay lamps are not in the GST list. Medical items like blood from blood banks attract no GST either.
Remember that some items may attract zero GST only if they are not packaged.