Goods Service Tax Highlights

Preamble

Since last 5 years the subject of GST is in public discussion. The Government appears to be keen to complete all formalities at the earliest. The target date for implementation is 1st April 2017. It is advertised and actually is a revolutionary reform in indirect taxation in India. However in any tax law principles of levy of tax are always good. When you read between the lines then many times you realize that the implementation is not as easy as it prima facie appears.

Although every political party advocated GST, for last 5 years the political game forced the delay in passage of amendment to constitution. Now that it has passed major hurdle of Rajya Sabha it seems certain that GST will come into existence in near future. It will be therefore worthwhile to know what is proposed GST Act. What will be the change? Whether there will be ease of making business? Whether prices will go up or down? What changes are required to be done in business model?

In December 2015 the Government has published proposed processes for registration, returns and refunds. On 14th June 2016 the Government has also published draft of Model GST Act. These publications give fair idea about how GST will affect the businesses. Let us first see -

Major features of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 (which was recently passed by parliament)

  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.

Way Ahead

  • Amendment to the constitution Parliament + more that 50% States and President’s assent.
  • Formation of GST Council – Expected in September 2016
  • Finalise Model draft of GST - Expected in November 2016
  • CGST and IGST to be passed by parliament: Expected in November 2016.
  • SGST to be passed by all states. Expected in December 2016
  • GST network - Expected in December 2016
  • GST Rules and Notifications and Forms – February 2017
  • Implementation to begin from 01/04/2017

Let us now discuss the basic characteristics of proposed 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.

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.

How would GST be administered in India?

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.

How would a particular transaction of goods and services be taxed simultaneously under Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST)?

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.

Will cross utilization of credits between goods and services be allowed under GST regime?

Cross utilization of credit of CGST between goods and services would be allowed. Similarly, the facility of cross utilization of credit will be available in case of SGST. However, the cross utilization of CGST and SGST would not be allowed except in the case of inter-State supply of goods and services under the IGST model which is explained in answer to the next question.

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 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.

Goods service tax network to 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 frontend 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.

How will imports be taxed under GST?

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.

By Adv. Govind Patwardhan
Mobile : 9822048810
Email : gypatwardhan@gmail.com