Thursday, February 24, 2011

What is GST? How does it work ?

GST is a tax on goods and services with comprehensive and continuous chain of set-off benefits from the producer's point and service provider's point upto the retailer's level. It is essentially a tax only on value addition at each stage, and a supplier at each stage is permitted to set-off, through a tax credit mechanism, the GST paid on the purchase of goods and services as available for set-off on the GST to be paid on the supply of goods and services. 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.
The illustration shown below indicates, in terms of a hypothetical example with a manufacturer, one wholeseller and one retailer, how GST will work. Let us suppose that GST rate is 10%, with the manufacturer making value addition of Rs.30 on his purchases worth Rs.100 of input of goods and services used in the manufacturing process. The manufacturer will then pay net GST of Rs. 3 after setting-off Rs. 10 as GST paid on his inputs (i.e. Input Tax Credit) from gross GST of Rs. 13. The manufacturer sells the goods to the wholeseller. When the wholeseller sells the same goods after making value addition of (say), Rs. 20, he pays net GST of only Rs. 2, after setting-off of Input Tax Credit of Rs. 13 from the gross GST of Rs. 15 to the manufacturer. Similarly, when a retailer sells the same goods after a value addition of (say) Rs. 10, he pays net GST of only Re.1, after setting-off Rs.15 from his gross GST of Rs. 16 paid to wholeseller. Thus, the manufacturer, wholeseller and retailer have to pay only Rs. 6 (= Rs. 3+Rs. 2+Re. 1) as GST on the value addition along the entire value chain from the producer to the retailer, after setting-off GST paid at the earlier stages. The overall burden of GST on the goods is thus much less. This is shown in the table below. The same illustration will hold in the case of final service provider as well.
Stage of supply chain
Purchase value of Input
Value addition
Value at which supply of goods and services made to next stage
Rate of GST
GST on output
Input Tax credit
Net GST= GST on output - Input tax credit
13-10 = 3
Whole seller
15-13 = 2
16-15 = 1

 Advantages of introduction of GST in India would be:

(1)speeds up economic union of India;

(2)better compliance and revenue buoyancy;

(3)replacing the cascading effect [tax on tax] created by existing indirect taxes;

(4)tax incidence for consumers may fall;

(5)lower transaction cost for final consumers;

(6)by merging all levies on goods and services into one, GST acquires a very simple and transparent character;

(7)uniformity in tax regime with only one or two tax rates across the supply chain as against multiple tax structure as of present;

(8)efficiency in tax administration;

(9)may widen tax base;

(10)increased tax collections due to wide coverage of goods and services; and

(11)improvement in cost competitiveness of goods and services in the international market.

What is the justification of GST ?

There was a burden of "tax on tax" in the pre-existing Central excise duty of the Government of India and sales tax system of the State Governments. The introduction of Central VAT (CENVAT) has removed the cascading burden of "tax on tax" to a good extent by providing a mechanism of "set off" for tax paid on inputs and services upto the stage of production, and has been an improvement over the pre-existing Central excise duty. Similarly, the introduction of VAT in the States has removed the cascading effect by giving set-off for tax paid on inputs as well as tax paid on previous purchases and has again been an improvement over the previous sales tax regime.
     But both the CENVAT and the State VAT have certain incompleteness. The incompleteness in CENVAT is that it has yet not been extended to include chain of value addition in the distributive trade below the stage of production. It has also not included several Central taxes, such as Additional Excise Duties, Additional Customs Duty, Surcharges etc. in the overall framework of CENVAT, and thus kept the benefits of comprehensive input tax and service tax set-off out of the reach of manufacturers/ dealers. The introduction of GST will not only include comprehensively more indirect Central taxes and integrate goods and services taxes for set-off relief, but also capture certain value addition in the distributive trade.
     Similarly, in the present State-level VAT scheme, CENVAT load on the goods has not yet been removed and the cascading effect of that part of tax burden has remained unrelieved. Moreover, there are several taxes in the States, such as, Luxury Tax, Entertainment Tax, etc. which have still not been subsumed in the VAT. Further, there has also not been any integration of VAT on goods with tax on services at the State level with removal of cascading effect of service tax. In addition, although the burden of Central Sales Tax (CST) on inter-State movement of goods has been lessened with reduction of CST rate from 4% to 2%, this burden has also not been fully phased out. With the introduction of GST at the State level, the additional burden of CENVAT and services tax would be comprehensively removed, and a continuous chain of set-off from the original producer's point and service provider's point upto the retailer's level would be established which would eliminate the burden of all cascading effects, including the burden of CENVAT and service tax. This is the essence of GST. Also, major Central and State taxes will get subsumed into GST which will reduce the multiplicity of taxes, and thus bring down the compliance cost. With GST, the burden of CST will also be phased out.
     Thus GST is not simply VAT plus service tax, but a major improvement over the previous system of VAT and disjointed services tax - a justified step forward.

Will GST be levied in addition to the existing taxes?

No, the introduction of GST will replace the various taxes presently being levied by Central & State Government(s). The CGST will subsume following taxes levied by Central government: -

• Central excise duty (Cenvat),
• Service tax,
• Additional duties of customs;
• Central sales tax

And SGST will subsume following taxes levied by State Government: -

• Value-added tax (VAT),
• Entertainment tax,
• Luxury tax,
• Octroi,
• Lottery taxes,
• Electricity duty,
• State surcharges related to supply of goods and services &
• Purchase tax.

Will prices go up after the implementation of GST?

In fact, the prices of commodities are expected to come down in the long run as dealers will be allowed to avail the CENVAT credit of Excise duty paid by Manufacturers and more over he will be allowed to avail the CENVAT credit of tax paid on services also. This passing of the benefits of reduced tax incidence to consumers by slashing the prices of goods will definitely reduce the prices.

What are the implications of GST on imports and exports?

Imports would be subject to GST. Exports, however, will be zero-rated, meaning exporters of goods and services need not pay GST on their exports. GST paid by them on the procurement of goods and services will be refunded as similar to the present scenario.

History of GST around the Globe: -

France was the first country which introduced a comprehensive goods and service tax Regime in 1954. The Goods and Service Tax (GST) is proposed to be a comprehensive indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at a national level. The GST rate in various countries ranges from 5 per cent in Taiwan to 25 per cent in Denmark.

In the late 1980s, the federal government of Canada replaced its MST (Manufacturer’s Sale Tax) with a new value-added sales tax called the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The basic motive behind this reform was to introduce a new nationally harmonized sales tax which would replace individual provincial sales taxes (PST), and both the levels of government would share the revenues generated there from.

Subsequent negotiations to harmonize the provincial and national sales taxes proved unsuccessful for the Canadian Government. Various provinces challenged the introduction of national sales tax on the ground that the federal government was exceeding its constitutional powers by operating in a taxation field historically reserved for the provinces. But as a result of constructive efforts by the Canadian Government National Sales Tax was implemented in 1989-90.

In Australia It was introduced by the Howard Government on 1 July 2000, replacing the previous Federal wholesale sales tax system and designed to phase out a number of various State and Territory Government taxes, duties and levies such as banking taxes and stamp duty. This proved a milestone in the taxonomy of Australia.

Today, it has spread to about 150 countries.

Before parting and to bring an end to this article we summarize that GST is a harmonized consumption tax system, whose introduction will bring an end to a varied number of Indirect taxes presently being levied by Central Government and State Government. The proposed date of Introduction of GST has been announced by the Government to be 1st April, 2010. Till now Government has not yet issued any Draft of GST model or various provisions to be applied, all we can do is to wait for the Draft to release. Till then we can only predict the outlook of the GST model in India and nothing can be said with utmost certainty.
Further we would bring in light that the Finance Ministers categorical statement in Parliament regarding GST implementation on April 1, 2010 clearly indicates the Governments clear and incessant intention towards bringing this tax regime by its due date. Accordingly, based on indications, as also on the basis of our subsequent interactions with senior Government Officials, we believe that the April 1, 2010 timeline for introduction of the dual GST will be duly met and we must welcome this new levy as this is the future of forthcoming India.


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