Buyers find ways to avoid steep GST on flats being built
Some builders have found innovative ways to avoid GST on flats. People have started avoiding 12% GST on the buildings. They show the booking amount as a ‘loan’ given by the buyer to its subsidiary company and once the building is ready with the mandatory occupation certificate from the BMC, the builder returns the amount to the purchaser with interest.
While GST on under-construction flats is a dampener on sales, some builders have found a way out. They show the booking amount as a ‘loan’ given by the buyer to its subsidiary company and once the building is ready and occupation certificate (OC) obtained, the builder returns the amount to the purchaser with interest. “The client then pays back the entire money to the construction firm,” said a builder with projects in the eastern suburbs. This does the trick because GST is not levied on completed projects with OC whereas GST rate is 12% on under-construction projects, and buyers in the affordable housing segment (homes of up to 60 sqm carpet area) pay 8% GST.
“GST is supposed to be a tax-neutral proposition, with input tax credit benefits to be passed on to homebuyers. However, lack of clarity on the amount and timelines of passing on this benefit have led to a predictable phenomenon—the quest for ways and means to avoid GST,” said Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants. “In one variable, a homebuyer enters into a deal with the developer and subsequently, after receipt of the occupation certificate, the deal is cancelled and a fresh agreement is signed between the two parties. While reputed developers are steering clear of such deals because of the obvious potential legal pitfalls, a few smaller players are engaging in such practices to avoid GST and attract buyers,” said Puri.
Sources said most purchasers are not even aware of the GST tax discount. “This is unfair for them. Most developers get away due to this lack of knowledge. This is, of course, a problem with a few developers and not all,” they said.