GST is one indirect tax for the whole nation, which will make India one unified common market. The GST intends to subsume most indirect taxes under a single taxation regime. GST is a single tax on the supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer. Credits of input taxes paid at each stage will be available in the subsequent stages of value addition, which makes GST essentially a tax only on value addition at each stage. The final consumer will thus bear only the GST charged by the last dealer in the supply chain, with set-off benefits at all the previous stages. This is expected to help broaden the tax base, increase tax compliance, and reduce economic distortions caused by inter-state variations in taxes.
Why GST has been proposed?
Our Constitution empowers the Central Government to levy excise duty on manufacturing and service tax on the supply of services. Further, it empowers the State Governments to levy sales tax or value added tax (VAT) on the sale of goods. This exclusive division of fiscal powers has led to a multiplicity of indirect taxes in the country. In addition, central sales tax (CST) is levied on inter-State sale of goods by the Central Government, but collected and retained by the exporting States. Further, many States levy an entry tax on the entry of goods in local areas.
This multiplicity of taxes at the State and Central levels has resulted in a complex indirect tax structure in the country that is ridden with hidden costs for the trade and industry. In order to simplify and rationalize indirect tax structures, Government of India attempted various tax policy reforms at different points of time. A system of VAT on services at the central government level was introduced in 2002. The states collect taxes through state sales tax VAT, introduced in 2005, levied on intra-state trade and the CST on inter-state trade. Despite all the various changes the overall taxation system continues to be complex and has various exemptions.
This led to the idea of "One nation One Tax" and introduction of GST in Indian financial system. This is simply very similar to VAT which is at present applicable in most of the states and can be termed as National level VAT on Goods and Services with only one difference that in this system not only goods but also services are involved and the rate of tax on goods and services are generally the same.
What are the major chronological events that have led to the introduction of GST?
GST is being introduced in the country after a 13 year long journey since it was first discussed in the report of the Kelkar Task Force on indirect taxes. A brief chronology outlining the major milestones on the proposal for introduction of GST in India is as follows:
What are the features of the GST Bill?
The salient features of the Bill are as follows:
Taxes Going to Subsumed Under GST
At the Central level, the following taxes are being subsumed:
1. Central Excise Duty,
2. Additional Excise Duty,
3. Service Tax,
4. Additional Customs Duty commonly known as Countervailing Duty, and
5. Special Additional Duty of Customs.
At the State level, the following taxes are being subsumed:
1. Subsuming of State Value Added Tax/Sales Tax,
2. Entertainment Tax (other than the tax levied by the local bodies), Central Sales Tax (levied by the Centre and collected by the States),
3. Octroi and Entry tax,
4. Purchase Tax,
5. Luxury tax, and
6. Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling.
Why is Dual GST required?
India is a federal country where both the Centre and the States have been assigned the powers to levy and collect taxes through appropriate legislation. Both the levels of Government have distinct responsibilities to perform according to the division of powers prescribed in the Constitution for which they need to raise resources. A dual GST will, therefore, be in keeping with the Constitutional requirement of fiscal federalism.
Bills for implementation of GST regime
Bills passed for the implementation of GST regime:
Applicability of GST
Examples - GST at work
Let us suppose that GST rate is 10%, with the manufacturer making value addition of Rs.30 on his purchases worth Rs.100 of input of goods and services used in the manufacturing process. The manufacturer will then pay net GST of Rs.3 after setting-off Rs.10 as GST paid on his inputs (i.e. Input Tax Credit) from gross GST of Rs.13. The manufacturer sells the goods to the whole-seller. When the whole-seller sells the same goods after making value addition of (say), Rs.20, he pays net GST of only Rs.2, after setting-off of Input Tax Credit of Rs.13 from the gross GST of Rs.15 to the manufacturer. Similarly, when a retailer sells the same goods after a value addition of (say) Rs.10, he pays net GST of only Re.1, after setting-off Rs.15 from his gross GST of Rs. 16 paid to whole-seller. Thus, the manufacturer, whole-seller and retailer have to pay only Rs.6 (= Rs.3+Rs.2+Re.1) as GST on the value addition along the entire value chain from the producer to the retailer, after setting-off GST paid at the earlier stages. The overall burden of GST on the goods is thus much less.
How will be Inter-State Transactions of Goods and Services be taxed under GST in terms of IGST method?
In case of inter-State transactions, the Centre would levy and collect the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on all inter-State supplies of goods and services under Article 269A (1) of the Constitution. The IGST would roughly be equal to CGST plus SGST. The IGST mechanism has been designed to ensure seamless flow of input tax credit from one State to another. The inter-State seller would pay IGST on the sale of his goods to the Central Government after adjusting credit of IGST, CGST and SGST on his purchases (in that order). The exporting State will transfer to the Centre the credit of SGST used in payment of IGST. The importing dealer will claim credit of IGST while discharging his output tax liability (both CGST and SGST) in his own State. The Centre will transfer to the importing State the credit of IGST used in payment of SGST. Since GST is a destination-based tax, all SGST on the final product will ordinarily accrue to the consuming State.
How would GST be administered in India?
GST Council will be tasked with optimizing tax collection for goods and services by the State and Centre. The Council will consist of the Union Finance Minister (as Chairman), the Union Minister of State in charge of revenue or Finance, and the Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other, nominated by each State government.
The GST Council will be the body that decides which taxes levied by the Centre, States and local bodies will go into the GST; which goods and services will be subjected to GST; and the basis and the rates at which GST will be applied.
Composition of GST Council
GST council consists of:
All decisions of the GST Council will be made by three-fourth majority of the votes cast; the centre shall have one-third of the votes cast, and the states together shall have two-third of the votes cast.
The GST Council will make recommendations on:
How will IT be used for the implementation of GST?
For the implementation of GST in the country, the Central and State Governments have jointly registered Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) as a not-for-profit, non-Government Company to provide shared IT infrastructure and services to Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders. The key objectives of GSTN are to provide a standard and uniform interface to the taxpayers, and shared infrastructure and services to Central and State/UT governments. GSTN is working on developing a state-of-the-art comprehensive IT infrastructure including the common GST portal providing front end services of registration, returns and payments to all taxpayers, as well as the backend IT modules for certain States that include processing of returns, registrations, audits, assessments, appeals, etc. All States, accounting authorities, RBI and banks, are also preparing their IT infrastructure for the administration of GST. There would no manual filing of returns. All taxes can also be paid online. All mis-matched returns would be auto-generated, and there would be no need for manual interventions. Most returns would be self-assessed.
This Act has the potential to usher in monumental changes in the indirect tax regime in India.