On the 18th of May, 2017, the GST council convened to fix and finalise the much awaited GST rates for 1211 goods across 98 categories. The very next day, the council re-convened to finalise the GST rates for 36 categories for services.

To begin with, Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Government of India has stated – that nearly 81% of the items will be classified at 18% GST rate slab and lower; while the remaining 19% will be taxed at 28% and above.

GST Rates

Here’s what you need to know about some of the main goods and services, classified across the 5 GST tax slabs.

Exempted from GST


  • Poultry Products – Fresh Meat, Fish, Chicken, Eggs
  • Dairy Products – Milk, Curd, Butter Milk, Jaggery (Gur), Lassi, unpacked Paneer
  • Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
  • Food Items – Natural Honey, Flour (Atta & Maida), Pulses, Basmati Rice, Gram Flour (Besan), Bread, Religious Sweets (Prasad), Common Salt
  • Cosmetics & Accessories – Bindi, Vermillion (Sindoor), Bangles
  • Stationery – Stamps, Judicial Papers, Printed Books, Newspapers
  • Handloom Products
  • Textile – Jute, Silk
  • Contraceptives


  • Hotel Services priced at less than INR 1000
  • Education (exemption continued from before)
  • Healthcare (exemption continued from before)

GST Rates – 5%


  • Dairy Products – Skimmed Milk Powder, Milk food for babies, Condensed milk, Packaged Paneer, Cream
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Food Items – Sugar, Spices, Edible Oil, Vegetable Oils, Pizza Bread, Rusk, Sweets, Fish Fillets, Tapioca (sabu daana)
  • Beverages – Coffee, Tea, Juices
  • Apparel – below 1000 INR
  • Footwear – below 500 INR
  • Fuel – Kerosene, LPG, Coal
  • Solar Panels
  • Common Utilities – Broom
  • Medical Goods – Medicines, Stents
  • Newsprint
  • Lifeboats
  • Textile – Cotton, Natural Fibre and yarns
  • Incense Sticks (Agarbatti)


  • Railway Travel
  • Economy Class Air Travel
  • Cab Aggregators (e.g. Uber & Ola)

GST Rates – 12%


  • Dairy Products – Butter, Cheese, Ghee
  • Packaged Dry Fruits
  • Food Items – Snacks (Namkeen & Bhujia), Packaged Chicken, Sausages, Jams, Sauces
  • Beverages – Fruit Juices, Packed Coconut Water
  • Apparel – above 1000 INR
  • Personal Hygiene – Tooth Powder
  • Stationery – Exercise Books, Notebooks
  • Common Utilities – Sewing Machine, Umbrella
  • Ayurvedic Medicine
  • Mobile Phones


  • Non-AC Hotels & Restaurants
  • Business Class Air Travel

GST Rates – 18%


  • Dairy Products – Ice Cream
  • Preserved Vegetables
  • Food Items – Flavoured refined sugar, Pasta, Corn Flakes, Pastries, Cakes, Soups, Instant Food Mixes, Processed Foods
  • Beverages – Mineral Water
  • Branded Garments
  • Footwear – above 500 INR
  • Personal Hygiene – Tissues, Toilet Paper, Hair Oil, Soap Bars, Toothpaste
  • Stationery – Envelopes, Fountain Pens
  • Electronic Equipment – Printed Circuits, Monitors
  • Iron & Steel Products
  • Biri wrapper leaves (Tendu Patta)
  • Biscuits
  • Textile – Man-made fibre and yarn


  • Accommodation at hotels with tariff of more than 2500 INR but less than 7500 INR
  • Supply of food / drinks in AC / 5 star and above rated restaurants
  • Telecom Services
  • IT Services
  • Financial Services
  • Works Contract
  • Cinema Tickets worth 100 INR or less

GST Rates – 28%


  • Food Items – Chocolates, Chewing Gum, Custard Powder
  • Beverages – Aerated Water
  • Personal Hygiene – Deodorants, Shaving Cream, After Shave, Hair Shampoo, Dye, Sunscreen, Perfume, Face Creams, Detergents
  • White Goods – Vacuum Cleaner, Shavers, Hair Clippers, Washing Machines, Dish Washers, Water Heaters & other Home Appliances
  • Speakers
  • Cameras
  • Automobiles & Motor Vehicles*
  • Housing Materials – Paint, Wallpaper, Ceramic Tiles, Cement
  • Weighing Machines, Vending Machines, ATM
  • Fireworks
  • Luxury / Demerit Goods* – Pan Masala, Tobacco, Bidis, Aerated Drinks & Motor Vehicles


  • Race course betting
  • Accommodation at hotels with tariff of more than 7500 INR
  • Cinema Tickets worth more than 100 INR

*Note – Luxury / Demerit Goods as listed above will also attract a compensation cess over and above the GST rate of 28%

Articles outside the GST Tax Rate Slabs

  • Gold, gems, jewellery – 3%
  • Rough Precious & Semi – Precious Stones  – 0.25%

Treatment of Luxury / Demerit Goods

In addition to the rates which have been fixed for major categories of goods and services, the GST council has approved the compensation rates for 5 luxury / demerit items. The proceeds of this cess will go into the compensation fund which would be used to bridge any tax revenue gap for states in the first five years of GST.

The items that will be levied with the compensation cess, over and above the GST rates which are applicable on them are as follows:

ItemsGST Rate ApplicableApproved Cess RangeCess Ceiling
Coal5%INR 400 / tonneINR 400 / tonne
Pan Masala28%60%135%
Tobacco28%61% – 204%INR 4170 / thousand
Aerated Drinks28%12%15%
Motor Vehicles**28%1% – 15%15%

**Note – The cess will be 15% for cars with over 1500 cc engine capacity, other sports and luxury cars. The cess will be 1% for smaller cars.

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Pramit Pratim Ghosh

Author: Pramit Pratim Ghosh

Pramit, who has been with Tally since May 2012, is an integral part of the digital content team. As a member of Tally’s GST centre of excellence, he has written blogs on GST law, impact and opinions - for customer, tax practitioner and student audiences, as well as on generic themes such as - automation, accounting, inventory, business efficiency - for business owners.