Fruit-based fizzy drinks face 28% GST plus 12% cess

MUMBAI: India is caught in the grip of a heat wave and what better way to cool off than a cold drink, which you can conveniently gulp directly from a bottle or tetra pack. But hang on: If you want a fizzy drink, be prepared to pay the price. The classification of a cold drink will determine the goods and services tax (GST) levy, which is a component of the final price paid by you – the consumer.

While fruit pulp or a fruit juice-based tetra pack could entail a GST of just 12%, if the drink is a carbonated (fizzy) fruit-based drink, the consumer could end up paying more owing to a higher GST levy. Following a GST council meeting on September 13 last year, it was clarified in a press release, “Carbonated fruit beverages of fruit drink and carbonated beverages with fruit juice will attract GST at 28% and compensation cess of 12%.”

This was prescribed specifically in the rate schedule. Recently, in response to a ruling sought by a cold drink supplier, the Gujarat bench of the GST Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR) held that Apple Cola Fizzy and Malt Cola Fizzy are carbonated drinks with fruit juice that will attract GST of 28% and compensation cess of 12%. Earlier, the Appellate Authority for Advance Rulings (Tamil Nadu) had reached a similar conclusion in the case of fizzy grape juice.