The GST Council, in its 23rd meeting in Guwahati, reduced the Goods and Services Tax rate for restaurants to 5% from 18%, which was expected to make eating out cheaper.
However, many restaurants, including international chains like McDonald's, Starbucks, and Domino's, raised their menu prices and are not passing on the GST-cut benefit to consumers.
Here's what to do if restaurants are overcharging you!
On 15 November, the GST rate for all restaurants, irrespective of whether they are AC or non-AC, was lowered to 5% from 18%.
The 5% GST rate is also applicable to deliveries and takeaways.
Also, the GST Council decided that no input tax credit would be given to the restaurants.
But some restaurants that don't have GSTN are also illegally charging GST.
If consumers notice that there are discrepancies in a restaurant's menu prices (before and after the GST rate-cut) or if they are being overcharged in the name of GST, they can register complaints against such GST-related frauds.
Instead of arguing with the restaurant's management, customers can register complaints with the Central Board of Excise and Customs or the Department of Consumer Affairs.
Consumers can visit CBEC GST portal at https://cbec-gst.gov.in/ and click on "Raise Web Ticket" under "CBEC Mitra Helpdesk".
Users need to select "Report Tax Fraud/Avoidance" and then enter their details.
In "Report" box, they should enter the restaurant's details (name and address), write their complaint, and submit.
A representative would contact the restaurant and update the consumer about the status of their complaint.
Consumers can also send their complaints to CBEC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They need to mention their personal information like name and contact number, along with restaurant's details like name, address, and the nature of the complaint.
Keeping the pre and post GST rate-cut bills ready would be helpful.
CBEC says its representatives would first contact the restaurant and check the provided details with them.
For complaints, consumers can call CBEC toll-free number 18001200232 where they can connect the Fraud department. They can also share their grievances on Twitter by getting in touch with Finance Ministry (@FinMinIndia) and GST (askGST_Goi).
Consumers can visit Consumer Affairs portal http://consumerhelpline.gov.in or send an email to email@example.com with their personal details and the restaurant details, after which the consumer forum would contact the restaurant.
Alternatively, consumers can send an email to the restaurant.
If the restaurant doesn't respond within seven days or the customer isn't satisfied with its response, they can file a complaint in a consumer court.
After restaurants, the Centre is cracking down on FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) companies that aren't passing on the benefits of lower GST rates to consumers.
The Union Cabinet recently gave its approval for constituting the National Anti-Profiteering Authority to ensure that such benefits are passed on to the consumers.
The government stated that anti-profiteering action would be taken against companies/businesses failing to do so.
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