GST Exemption: List of Goods & Services Exempt Under GST

The Goods and Services Tax, GST, has replaced all other types of indirect taxes applicable on goods and services. Instead of VAT, service tax, etc., a single GST is charged on the value of goods and services. There are different GST rates applicable for different types of goods and services. However, in some instances, no GST is levied. Non-application of GST is called GST exemption. This exemption is available for specific businesses, goods and services.

Important: e-verify your income tax return within 30 days, else your return will be considered as not filed.

Exempt supply under GST

Exempt supply under GST means supplies which not attract goods and service tax. In these supply no GST is charged. Input tax credit paid on these supplies will not be able for utilisation. These are the following three types of supply which are considered as exempt supply:-

  • supplies which are chargeable to nil rate tax.
  • supplies which are partially and wholly exempt from the charge of GST by the notifications which amended the section 11 of CGST and section 6 IGST.
  • supplies which comes under the sec 2(78) of the Act. which covers the supplies which are not taxable under the Act like alcoholic liquor for human consumption.

GST exemption from registration

  • Agriculturists
  • Person who fall in the threshold exemption limit of turnover for supply of goods INR 40 lakhs and for supply of services INR 20 lakhs and for specified category INR 20 lakh and INR 10 lakh.
  • Person who are making NIL Rated and exempt supply of goods and services such as fresh milk, honey, cheese, agriculture services etc.
  • Person making activities which are not covered under the supply of goods and services such as funeral services , petroleum products etc.
  • person making supplies those are covered under reverse charge such as tobacco leave, cashew nut(not shelled and peeled ) etc.

Let’s understand the exemptions in each instance –

GST exemption for businesses

Small and medium scale businesses can enjoy GST exemptions if their aggregate turnover is up to a specified limit. When the GST Act was launched, this limit was INR 20 lakhs for individuals and businesses and INR 10 lakhs for hilly states and North-eastern States of India. However, in the 32nd GST Council Meeting, which was held in January 2019, the limits have been changed. These limits are as follows –

  • Businesses and individuals who are supplying goods can claim GST exemption if their aggregate turnover is less than INR 40 lakhs in a financial year.
  • For hilly and north-eastern States of India, the limit has been revised to INR 20 lakhs.
  • For businesses and individuals involved in the supply of services, the limit for claiming GST exemption is INR 20 lakhs
  • In case of hilly and north-eastern States, if the aggregate turnover is up to INR 10 lakhs, businesses and individuals supplying services can claim GST exemptions.

Hilly and north-eastern States would include Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Nagaland, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam and Manipur.

Aggregate turnover, as per the GST Act, would include the aggregate value of all types of taxable supplies, inter-state supplies, exempt supplies and the goods and services which have been exported. The following, would, however, be deducted from the value of aggregate turnover –

  • CGST, SGST or IGST already paid by the investor
  • Taxes which are payable on the basis of reverse charge mechanism
  • Value of the inward supply of goods and services
  • Value of non-taxable goods and services#

GST exemptions for goods

There is a list of goods which do not attract GST as recommended by the GST Council. The reasons for granting exemption on goods might include any of the following –

  • In the interest of the public
  • The exemption is as per the GST Council’s recommendation
  • The exemption is granted by the Government through a special order
  • The exemption is allowed on specific goods through an official notification

Moreover, there are two types of GST exemptions on goods. These are as follows –

  • Absolute exemption - under this type of exemption, the supply of specific types of goods would be exempted from GST without considering the details of the supplier or receiver and whether the good is supplied within or outside the State.
  • Conditional exemption – under this type of exemption, supply of specific types of goods would be GST exempt subject to certain terms and conditions which have been specified under the GST Act or any amendment or notification.

Here is a list of some of the most common goods which are GST exempt –

Types of goods Examples
Live animals Asses, cows, sheep, goat, poultry, etc.
Meat  Fresh and frozen meat of sheep, cows, goats, pigs, horses, etc.
Fish  Fresh or frozen fish
Natural products Honey, fresh and pasteurized milk, cheese, eggs, etc.
Live trees and plants Bulbs, roots, flowers, foliage, etc.
Vegetables  Tomatoes, potatoes, onions, etc.
Fruits Bananas, grapes, apples, etc.
Dry fruits Cashew nuts, walnuts, etc.
Tea, coffee and spices Coffee beans, tea leaves, turmeric, ginger, etc.
Grains  Wheat, rice, oats, barley, etc.
Products of the milling industry  Flours of different types
Seeds  Flower seeds, oil seeds, cereal husks, etc.
Sugar  Sugar, jaggery, etc.
Water  Mineral water, tender coconut water, etc.
Baked goods Bread, pizza base, puffed rice, etc.
Fossil fuels Electrical energy
Drugs and pharmaceuticals Human blood, contraceptives, etc.
Fertilizers  Goods and organic manure
Beauty products Bindi, kajal, kumkum, etc.
Waste  Sewage sludge, municipal waste, etc.
Ornaments Plastic and glass bangles bangles, etc.
Newsprint  Judicial stamp paper, envelopes, rupee notes, etc.
Printed items Printed books, newspapers, maps, etc.
Fabrics  Raw silk, silkworm cocoon, khadi, etc.
Hand tools Spade, hammer, etc.
Pottery  Earthen pots, clay lamps, etc.

GST Exemption on services

Just like specific goods, specific services are also GST exempt. There are three types of supply of services which would qualify for GST exemption. These include the following –

  • Supplies which have a 0% tax rate
  • Supplies which do not attract CGST or IGST due to the provisions stated in a notification which amends either Section 11 of CGST Act or Section 6 of IGST Act
  • Supplies which are defined under Section 2(78) of the GST Act which are not taxable.

Since these types of supplies are GST exempt, any Input Tax Credit which is applicable on these supplies would not be available to utilise or set off the GST liability.

Moreover, even under supply of services, there can be two types of GST exemptions which are as follows –

  • Absolute exemption wherein the service would be exempted from GST without any conditions
  • Conditional exemption or partial exemption wherein exemption is granted based on a condition. This condition states that if the service is supplied intra-State or if the service is supplied by a registered person to an unregistered one, GST would be exempted if the total value of such supplies received by a registered person is not more than INR 5000/day.

Here is a list of some of the services which enjoy GST exemption –

Types of services  Examples 
Agricultural services Cultivation, supplying farm labour, harvesting, warehouse related activities, renting or leading agricultural machinery, services provided by a commission agent or the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee or Board for buying or selling agriculture produce, etc.
Government services Postal service, transportation of people or goods, services by a foreign diplomat in India, services offered by the Reserve Bank of India, services offered to diplomats, etc.
Transportation services  Transportation of goods by road, rail, water, etc., payment of toll, transportation of passengers by air, transportation of goods where the cost of transport is less than INR 1500, etc.
Judicial services Services offered by arbitral tribunal, partnership firm of advocates, senior advocates to an individual or business entity whose aggregate turnover is up to INR 40 lakhs
Educational services Transportation of faculty or students, mid-day meal scheme, examination services, services offered by IIMs, etc.
Medical services  Services offered by ambulance, charities, veterinary doctors, medical professionals, etc. 
Organizational services  Services offered by exhibition organisers for international business exhibitions, tour operators for foreign tourists, etc.
Other services  Services offered by GSTN to the Central or State Government or Union Territories, admission fee payable to theatres, circuses, sports events, etc. which charge a fee up to INR 250

Though GST is applicable for all businesses and on the supply of goods and services, the above-mentioned exemptions are available. These exemptions reduce the GST burden and help in the socio-economic development of the country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q- From what date is GST exemption available?

GST exemption is available from the date such exemption is notified.

Q- Is a tax invoice necessary when supplying GST exempt goods?

Instead of a tax invoice, a bill of supply is required to be issued when the business is supplying GST exempt goods and services.

Q- Are exempted supplies recorded separately in GSTR-1 return?

Yes, when preparing a GSTR-1 return, a consolidated detail of nil rates, GST exempted and non-GST supplies should be recorded separately.

Q- Who can offer GST exemptions?

GST exemptions can be offered by the Government. The Government notifies the exemption through a notification after availing recommendations from the GST Council.

Q- Is GST registration required if the business is supplying GST exempt goods?

No, registration of the business is not necessary if the business is supplying only GST exempt goods.

CA Abhishek Soni
CA Abhishek Soni

Abhishek Soni is a Chartered Accountant by profession & entrepreneur by passion. He is the co-founder & CEO of Tax2win is amongst the top 25 emerging startups of Asia and authorized ERI by the Income Tax Department. In the past, he worked in EY and comes with wide industry experience from telecom, retail to manufacturing to entertainment where he has handled various national and international assignments.