5.8.16

All you need to know about the GST

All you need to know about the GST

Dear Readers, 

As all of you know that yesterday night, the Rajya Sabha passed a bill to amend the Constitution to facilitate the rollout of the historic GST amid government's assurance that the tax rates would be kept "as low as possible". The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 was approved by the Upper House with 203 votes in favour and none against, after a seven-hour debate during which a rare bonhomie was witnessed among the ruling and the opposition parties. Six official amendments, including the scrapping of one percent additional tax, moved by the government were approved with cent percent votes.

Earlier, the bill was passed by the Lok Sabha. It will now go back to the Lower House to incorporate the amendments approved by the Rajya Sabha. The bill will also have to be approved by 50 percent of all the state assemblies. AIADMK was the only party to oppose the measure and its members staged a walkout from the House to register their unhappiness over the bill which lays the ground for the rollout of uniform Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime that will subsume all indirect taxes including central excise duty and state VAT/sales tax.

So here is a ready reckoner on the issues surrounding the proposed tax reform and it will mean for the Indian economy. But first, let's know more -

What is Goods and Services Tax (GST)?


As the name suggests, it is a tax levied when a consumer buys a good or service. It is meant to be a single, comprehensive tax that will subsume all the other smaller indirect taxes on consumption like service tax, excise duty etc. This is how it is done in most developed countries. It will be a comprehensive nationwide indirect tax on the manufacture, sale, and consumption of goods and services. The aim is to have one indirect tax for the whole nation, which will make India a unified common market. GST will be levied and collected at each stage of sale or purchase of goods or services based on the input tax credit method and would make not just manufacturing but also the interstate transportation of goods more efficient.

How will GST work and what all will it subsume?
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.

At the central level, the following taxes will be subsumed: Central Excise Duty, Additional Excise Duty, Service Tax, Countervailing Duty (Additional Customs Duty), and Special Additional Duty of Customs.

At the State level, the following taxes will be subsumed: State Value Added Tax/Sales Tax, Entertainment Tax, Central Sales Tax, Octroi and Entry tax, Purchase Tax, Luxury tax, and Taxes on the lottery betting and gambling.

How will GST be beneficial?
The benefits of GST can be summarized as under:
For business and industry
1. Easy compliance
2. Uniformity of tax rates and structures
3. Removal of cascading
4. Improved competitiveness
5. Gain to manufacturers and exporters

For Central and State Governments
1. Simple and easy to administer
2. Better controls on leakage
3. Higher revenue efficiency

For the consumer
1. Single and transparent tax proportionate to the value of goods and services
2. Relief in overall tax burden

What are the Earlier Opposition’s objections?

  • The opposition party 'Congress' wants a provision capping the GST rate at 18 percent to be added to the Bill itself. It also wants to scrap the proposed 1 per cent additional levy (over and above the GST) for manufacturing states. This levy was demanded by manufacturing states who argued that they needed to be compensated for the investment they had made in improving their manufacturing capabilities. The Centre had agreed to this demand to encourage the states to support the GST Bill.
  • The next demand by the Congress was to change the composition of the GST council—the body that decides the various nitty-grittys like rates of tax, period of levy of an additional tax, principles of supply, special provisions to certain states, etc. The proposed composition is for the Council to be two-thirds comprised from states and one-third from the Centre.
  • The Congress also wants the Centre’s share to be reduced to one-fourth. This demand, however, was rejected by even the Rajya Sabha Standing Committee.

By when will it be implemented?
Assuming the Constitution Amendment Bill does pass in the Monsoon Session, GST will still not be in force before April 1, 2017. And that is putting it optimistically. Apart from the legislative process mentioned above, the states, India Inc, and industries and service providers big and small, will also have to prepare themselves for a completely new nationwide tax regime.

How would GST be administered in 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. The 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.

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