Goods and Services Tax
Question 1. What is GST? How does it work?
- GST is one indirect tax for the whole nation, which will make India one unified common market.
- 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 stage 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.
Question 2. What are the benefits of GST?
Answer: The benefits of GST can be summarized as under:
- For business and industry
- Easy compliance: A robust and comprehensive IT system would be the foundation of the GST regime in India. Therefore, all tax payer services such as registrations, returns, payments, etc. would be available to the taxpayers online, which would make compliance easy and transparent.
- Uniformity of tax rates and structures: GST will ensure that indirect tax rates and structures are common across the country, thereby increasing certainty and ease of doing business. In other words, GST would make doing business in the country tax neutral, irrespective of the choice of place of doing business.
- Removal of cascading: A system of seamless tax-credits throughout the value-chain, and across boundaries of States, would ensure that there is minimal cascading of taxes. This would reduce hidden costs of doing business.
- Improved competitiveness: Reduction in transaction costs of doing business would eventually lead to an improved competitiveness for the trade and industry.
- Gain to manufacturers and exporters: The subsuming of major Central and State taxes in GST, complete and comprehensive set-off of input goods and services and phasing out of Central Sales Tax (CST) would reduce the cost of locally manufactured goods and services. This will increase the competitiveness of Indian goods and services in the international market and give boost to Indian exports. The uniformity in tax rates and procedures across the country will also go a long way in reducing the compliance cost.
- For Central and State Governments
- Simple and easy to administer: Multiple indirect taxes at the Central and State levels are being replaced by GST. Backed with a robust end-to-end IT system, GST would be simpler and easier to administer than all other indirect taxes of the Centre and State levied so far.
- Better controls on leakage: GST will result in better tax compliance due to a robust IT infrastructure. Due to the seamless transfer of input tax credit from one stage to another in the chain of value addition, there is an in-built mechanism in the design of GST that would incentivize tax compliance by traders.
- Higher revenue efficiency: GST is expected to decrease the cost of collection of tax revenues of the Government, and will therefore, lead to higher revenue efficiency.
- For the consumer
- Single and transparent tax proportionate to the value of goods and services: Due to multiple indirect taxes being levied by the Centre and State, with incomplete or no input tax credits available at progressive stages of value addition, the cost of most goods and services in the country today are laden with many hidden taxes. Under GST, there would be only one tax from the manufacturer to the consumer, leading to transparency of taxes paid to the final consumer.
- Relief in overall tax burden: Because of efficiency gains and prevention of leakages, the overall tax burden on most commodities will come down, which will benefit consumers.
Question 3. Which taxes at the Centre and State level are being subsumed into 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.
Question 4. How would GST be administered in India?
Answer: Keeping in mind the federal structure of India, there will be two components of GST — Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST).
- Both Centre and States will simultaneously levy GST across the value chain.
- Tax will be levied on every supply of goods and services.
- Centre would levy and collect Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST), and
- States would levy and collect the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) on all transactions within a State.
- The input tax credit of CGST would be available for discharging the CGST liability on the output at each stage.
- Similarly, the credit of SGST paid on inputs would be allowed for paying the SGST on output. No cross utilization of credit would be permitted.
Question 5. How would a particular transaction of goods and services be taxed simultaneously under Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST)?
Answer: The Central GST and the State GST would be levied simultaneously on every transaction of supply of goods and services except on exempted goods and services, goods which are outside the purview of GST and the transactions which are below the prescribed threshold limits. Further, both would be levied on the same price or value unlike State VAT which is levied on the value of the goods inclusive of Central Excise.
Question 6. 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.
Question 7. 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.
- 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.
Question 8. How will imports be taxed under GST?
Answer: The Additional Duty of Excise or CVD and the Special Additional Duty or SAD presently being levied on imports will be subsumed under GST. As per explanation to clause (1) of article 269A of the Constitution, IGST will be levied on all imports into the territory of India. Unlike in the present regime, the States where imported goods are consumed will now gain their share from this IGST paid on imported goods.
Question 9. What are the major features of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014?
Answer: The salient features of the Bill are as follows:
1. Conferring simultaneous power upon Parliament and the State Legislatures to make laws governing goods and services tax;
2. Subsuming of various Central indirect taxes and levies such as Central Excise Duty, Additional Excise Duties, Service Tax, Additional Customs Duty commonly known as Countervailing Duty, and Special Additional Duty of Customs;
3. Subsuming of State Value Added Tax/Sales Tax, Entertainment Tax (other than the tax levied by the local bodies), Central Sales Tax (levied by the Centre and collected by the States), Octroi and Entry tax, Purchase Tax, Luxury tax, and Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling;
4. Dispensing with the concept of 'declared goods of special importance' under the Constitution;
5. Levy of Integrated Goods and Services Tax on inter-State transactions of goods and services;
6. GST to be levied on all goods and services, except alcoholic liquor for human consumption. Petroleum and petroleum products shall be subject to the levy of GST on a later date notified on the recommendation of the Goods and Services Tax Council;
7. Compensation to the States for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the Goods and Services Tax for a period of five years;
8. Creation of Goods and Services Tax Council to examine issues relating to goods and services tax and make recommendations to the Union and the States on parameters like rates, taxes, cesses and surcharges to be subsumed, exemption list and threshold limits, Model GST laws, etc. The Council shall function under the Chairmanship of the Union Finance Minister and will have all the State Governments as Members.