Goods and Services Tax
Tax is the financial charge imposed by the Government on income, commodity, or activity. As we know, there are two types of tax – Direct tax, and Indirect tax. A direct tax is one where the burden of the tax is directly on the payer e.g., income tax, wealth tax etc. Indirect tax is paid by the person other than the person who utilises the product or service e.g. Excise duty, Custom duty, Service tax, Sales tax, Value added tax and recently GST – Goods and Service Tax in India.
GST is mainly followed on the TCS guideline – tax collection at source.
Goods and Service Tax in India
Earlier, more than 150 countries already had GST except in India. A reform swayed in the Indian economy and in its tax laws since 30th June to 1st July 2017 when the Indian Government decided to introduce GST to the citizens of the country.
Goods and Service tax is an indirect tax levied on the goods and services bought by the consumers. It is a single detailed and multi-oriented tax that will undermine all the other small indirect taxes like the excise duty, custom duty, service tax and etc.
The thought of proposing GST Act in India was not something new. This thought was initially proposed in the year 2000 under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee but it never came to fruition. Nevertheless, it was again introduced in 2016 as a Bill by the Lower House of the Parliament i.e., the Lok Sabha and passed on to the Upper House i.e., Rajya Sabha for its assent. After the bill was passed by both the Houses, President Pranab Mukherjee signed the bill and gave assent to it. This time the new reform was brought under the leadership of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the BJP party who holds maximum seats in the Lok Sabha. The GST council, and the current finance minister, and the leader of the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley presides over the GST matters. Finally, after the Bill was passed by the Parliament it has now become a GST Act, 2017.
Coming to the Goods and Service Tax, it has been divided into three kinds –
- CGST – Revenue collected by the Central Government.
- SGST – Revenue collected by the State Government for intra-state sales.
- IGST – Revenue collected by the Central Government for inter-state sales.
The new GST rates in India are 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and the highest rate being 28%. As a matter of fact, there will be no GST on the sale and purchase of securities. It will continue to be governed by Securities Transaction Tax (STT).
The Government of India finally enacted the new Act in the Sixty-eighth year of the Republic of India. The Central Goods and Services Act, 2017 thus came into force. It is an Act to make a provision for levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services or both by the Central Government and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The Constitution amends both the Centre and the State to levy GST. This would subsume various indirect taxes of both Centre and States into one. After this new tax reformation, there would be a Centre level GST and State level GST.
Changes in GST Law
GST law is applicable to the whole country except Jammu and Kashmir. According to GST law, if the buyer fails to pay the service provider, then the input tax credit availed by the buyer would be disallowed. Then he has to pay the ITC with interest. The time period for this is 180 days. Even, if the payment is made after 180 days the ITC will be allowed to pay. This provision includes both to services and goods. The GST law included “Actionable claims” in the definition of “goods”. It explains in the Act that the actionable claims other than the betting, gambling and lottery would not be treated as a supply of goods nor of services. Thus, GST would be applicable on gambling, lottery and betting but not on other “actionable claims.”
Benefits of GST
GST has been introduced to simplify the other small indirect taxes and comply into one. In short, it is the funnelling down of multiple small tax structures into one. It would reduce the burden of heavy lengthy taxation process. This basically divides the taxation into the manufacturing process and the services. GST would be charged at the final destination of consumption and not before that. This would be a great step forward to the country’s development as it will reduce the economic complexities and somewhat prevent corruption.
GST would benefit the individuals and companies as the price of certain products would decrease resulting more consumption of them and hence more production by the companies. Although, petroleum products, alcohol, and electricity do not fall under GST till now. The biggest advantage is the reduction of the tax burden imposed on the administrative system of our country. It would benefit the GDP of the country and positively affect the Indian economy.
Flaws of GST
The introduction of GST in the Indian economy has not been spared from criticism by the citizens. As human beings we know we are resistant to change and any change initially is not well likely taken by anyone. So, the same scenario is with the goods and service tax. GST is a whole new reform in the tax structure of the country. People would take time to understand and accept this system.
Real estate prices would likely go higher by 8%. Services like telecom, restaurants would likely charge higher tax rate. The division of tax between the Centre and States could create conflicts. It would also lead to additional compliance cost for small and medium enterprises for registration and tax filing purposes. The consumers might have to pay extra for the increasing operational costs by a certain amount.
- The GST would be governed by five GST laws namely CGST law, UTGST law, IGST law, SGST law and GST Compensation law. The levy of GST can commence only after the GST law has been enacted.
- GST would be charged at the destination point i.e. at the consumption level.
- Import of goods would be charged under IGST i.e., inter-state supplies along with the custom duties.
- Exports would be zero-rated.
- Taxpayers with an annual turnover of Rs 20 lakhs (for special category states it is Rs 10 lakhs as mentioned in 279A of the Constitution) would be exempt from GST.
- GST has a system of input tax credit which would allow the sellers to claim the tax already paid, so the final liability on the end consumer gets decreased.
The motive of GST is “One nation, one tax.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Somanka is a fifth-year law student pursuing BA LLB in Calcutta University. She’s also pursuing a diploma course in Entrepreneurship and Business Laws. After interning in various law firms in Calcutta High Court and gaining experiences about the practicalities of legal practice, she’s now keen to test her theories. An enthusiast and diligent worker, she’s also a good researcher and writer.