What is GST (Goods & Services Tax) : Details & Benefits

The present structure of Indirect Taxes is very complex in India. There are so many types of taxes that are levied by the Central and State Governments on Goods & Services.

We have to pay ‘Entertainment Tax’ for watching a movie. We have to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on purchasing goods & services. And there are Excise duties, Import Duties, Luxury Tax, Central Sales Tax, Service Tax….hhmmm..

As of today some of these taxes are levied by the Central Government and some are by the State governments. How nice will it be if there is only one unified tax rate instead of all these taxes?

In this post, let us understand – what is Goods and Services Tax and its importance. What are the benefits of GST Bill to Corporates, common man and end consumer? What are the advantages, disadvantages and challenges?

What is GST?

It has been long pending issue to streamline all the different types of indirect taxes and implement a “single taxation” system. This system is called as GST ( GST is the abbreviated form of Goods & Services Tax). The main expectation from this system is to abolish all indirect taxes and only GST would be levied. As the name suggests, the GST will be levied both on Goods and Services.

GST was first introduced during 2007-08 budget session. On 17th December 2014, the current Union Cabinet ministry approved the proposal for introduction GST Constitutional Amendment Bill. On 19th of December 2014, the bill was presented on GST in Loksabha. The Bill will be tabled and taken up for discussion during the coming Budget session. The current central government is very determined to implement GST Constitutional Amendment Bill.

GST is a tax that we need to pay on supply of goods & services. Any person, who is providing or supplying goods and services is liable to charge GST.

How is GST applied?

GST is a consumption based tax/levy. It is based on the “Destination principle.” GST is applied on goods and services at the place where final/actual consumption happens.

GST is collected on value-added goods and services at each stage of sale or purchase in the supply chain. GST paid on the procurement of goods and services can be set off against that payable on the supply of goods or services.The manufacturer or wholesaler or retailer will pay the applicable GST rate but will claim back through tax credit mechanism.

But being the last person in the supply chain, the end consumer has to bear this tax and so, in many respects, GST is like a last-point retail tax. GST is going to be collected at point of Sale. Graphical representaiton of how GST works

The GST is an indirect tax which means that the tax is passed on till the last stage wherein it is the customer of the goods and services who bears the tax. This is the case even today for all indirect taxes but the difference under the GST is that with streamlining of the multiple taxes the final cost to the customer will come out to be lower on the elimination of double charging in the system.

Let us understand the above supply chain of GST with an example:GST with supplychain example

The current tax structure does not allow a business person to take tax credits. There are lot of chances that double taxation takes place at every step of supply chain. This may set to change with the implementation of GST.

Indian Government is opting for Dual System GST. This system will have two components which will be known as

  • Central Goods and Service Tax (CGST) and
  • State Goods and Service Tax (SGST).

The current taxes like Excise duties, service tax, custom duty etc will be merged under CGST. The taxes like sales tax, entertainment tax, VAT and other state taxes will be included in SGST.

So, how is GST Levied? GST will be levied on the place of consumption of Goods and services. It can be levied on :

  • Intra-state supply and consumption of goods & services
  • Inter-state movement of goods
  • Import of Goods & Services

Applicability of GST centre & stateWhat is the applicable GST rate?

The rate (percentage) of GST is not yet decided.  As mentioned in the above table, there might be CGST, SGST and Integrated GST rates. It is also widely believed that there will be 2 or 3 rates based on the importance of goods. Like, the rates can be lower for essential goods and could be high for precious/luxury items.

Benefits of GST Bill implementation

  • The tax structure will be made lean and simple
  • The entire Indian market will be a unified market which may translate into lower business costs. It can facilitate seamless movement of goods across states and reduce the transaction costs of businesses.
  • It is good for export oriented businesses. Because it is not applied for goods/services which are exported out of India.
  • In the long run, the lower tax burden could translate into lower prices on goods for consumers.
  • The Suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are able to recover GST incurred on input costs as tax credits. This reduces the cost of doing business, thus enabling fairer prices for consumers.
  • It can bring more transparency and better compliance.
  • Number of departments (tax departments) will reduce which in turn may lead to less corruption
  • More business entities will come under the tax system thus widening the tax base. This may lead to better and more tax revenue collections.
  • Companies which are under unorganized sector will come under tax regime.

Challenges for implementing Goods & Services Tax system

  • The bill is yet to be tabled and passed in the Parliament
  • To implement the bill (if cleared by the Parliament) there has to be lot changes at administration level, Information Technology integration has to happen, sound IT infrastructure is needed, the state governments has to be compensated for the loss of revenues (if any) and many more..
  • GST, being a consumption-based tax, states with higher consumption of goods and services will have better revenues. So, the co-operation from state governments would be one of the key factors for the successful implementation of GST

Since GST replaces many cascading taxes, the common man may benefit after implementing it. But it all depends on ‘what rate the GST is going to be fixed at?’ Also, Small Traders (based on Annual Business turnover) may be exempted from it.

France was the first country to introduce this system in 1954. Nearly 140 countries are following this tax system. GST could be the next biggest tax reform in India. This reform could be a continuing process until it is fully evolved. We need to wait few more months for more details on Goods & Services Tax system.

Latest update (06-Apr-2017) : Rajyasabha passes GST bill. Now, the state assemblies would consider and pass their respective State GST (SGST) law.

Latest news on GST (30-Mar-2017) : GST Bill has been passed in Loksabha.

Latest update on GST Bill implementation date (28-Feb-2017) : All States now agree to roll out GST by July 2017. 

Latest update on GST Rate Structure (03-Nov-2016) : A four-tier GST tax slabs have been decided by the Finance ministry. Below are the details;

  • Zero Tax rate : There won’t be any tax on almost 50 % of items in the Consumer Price Index basket, including grains used by the common man.
  • 5% Tax slab : This is applicable on items of mass consumption used by common people.
  • There would be two standard rates of 12% and 18% under the GST regime.
  • All the items (especially luxury items) which are now taxed at around 30% will fall under 28% GST rate slab.
  • An additional cess would also be levied on luxury cars, tobacco products & aerated drinks besides the highest tax rate (28%).
  • The tax rate proposal will now be placed in Parliament for its approval.

Latest News on GST Bill (08-Sep-2016) – GST Bill gets President’s (Shri Pranab Mukherjee) nod. The enactment of the bill will now pave the way for the setting up of the GST council.

Latest News on GST Bill 2016 (03-August-2016) – Rajya Sabha passes GST Bill. What next? – The passage of the GST constitutional bill will lead to the setup of the GST council. The council will then deliberate upon the exact GST rate, which will be ratified by the States. The final and actual GST Bill will likely be taken up in Winter Session of the Parliament.

Latest news  (14-June-2016) : Ministry of Finance releases Draft GST Bill. Click here to download GST Draft Bill 2016 PDF.

Latest News (24-Apr-2015) : Finance Minister, Arun Jaitely has tabled the GST Bill in Lok Sabha.

Do you think GST Bill is going to be the game changer for Indian economy? Do  share your views and thoughts.

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(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

About The Author

  • Surjeet verma says:

    HI, Sreekanth Reddy

    This is a very nice article on what is GST,

  • GST India says:

    Very nicely explained, thank you sir.

  • Amrendra says:

    Such a nice article .this happened to be very useful to me in many ways. I wish you to keep doing the good work. I have also written some good useful article on my website. please check it out

  • Jagannath says:

    Thank you Mr.Reddy, simply super information, any body can understand, keep educating us

  • Animesh Jaswal says:

    nice article as GST Bill will be very useful for country because the people in our country need to pay many indirect taxes as a result things become very confusing for them as well.but this bill will have a simple tax structure a it will affect the prices of goods and services in the country.Can you tell me how GST bill will affect banking sector ?

    • Dear Animesh,
      GST might result into increasing the cost of the banking and financial services. A service tax of 15% is levied on financial services at present. With the assumed GST tax rate of 18% to 20%, it can be said that services are going to get expensive. A lot many compliance issues might also arise with the application of GST. The banking sector recommends that GST must not cover financial and banking services. It can be said that levy of GST on these services will be too challenging. (Courtesy : icici)

  • sudhir sharma says:

    I would like to know that below 20 Lakh turnover Shop or business not cover & upto 50 L no paper need.
    If I purchase goods of Rs 100 from above ref shop. If he did not give bill as ( Tendency to evade from tax) how he will catch in the system for tax of last stage of product.

  • Lawrence says:

    If I buy an apartment after GST implementation, how much percentage of tax should I need pay? will there be an increase/decrease in the tax?

  • Pedro Pereira says:

    GST will be applied also to import goods? Imagine, I want sell product from Portugal to India. This GST can be applied also?

    Many thanks and very best regards.

  • Hemant Sharma says:

    I love the language you use for explaining. Too much user friendly. I really like it. And kindly update the post. GST bill has passed in Lok Sabha.

  • Deepak says:

    In the above exapme given by you, in 3rd category, if 8% gst paid on Rs.500, Gst Rs.40. Then if it takes credit of Rs.12 , then Gst collected there will be Rs.28 instead of Rs.20 written.

  • Dr Goutam Chatterjee says:

    An educative article on GST yet it leaves following questions un-answered:-
    1. How manufacturing states would be benefited in tax collection as GST is levied at the last point?
    2. How traders of auto parts, kirana shops, cloth merchants, food products etc can be brought into tax net by GST as they virtually do not pay any tax on their business transactions?

    • Dear Dr Goutam,
      That’s the reason why some States have been opposing implementation of GST bill. The Center is planning to compensate the States for loss of income (if any).

  • Please also read my blogs on the following link related to GST:

    “GST not only a TAX reform but also a Business reform”
    https://goo.gl/CY8Pc4 on @LinkedIn

    “Supply- the very base of GST Law”
    https://goo.gl/Necaho on @LinkedIn

  • There is no doubt about that GST is a boon. Friends we have started a series on GST for sharing the knowledge. My first lecture is about the definition and scope of supply under GST regime. Click on the following link for the video. Please like, share and subscribe the channel and video for sharing the gaining the knowledge :

    URL : https://goo.gl/yZG3im

  • attitude academy says:

    nice blog… intresting it is

  • mahesh says:

    people are much unaware about income tax, it return and gst bill like this but there are lots of website like this where you can get detailed guide and knowledge on any subject which you want to know in easy language

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