The Good and Services tax in the biggest indirect tax reform since 1947 and it has potential to lead the economic integration of India.
The Goods and Services Tax Bill or GST Bill, officially known as The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2014, proposes a national Value added Tax to be implemented in India from April 2016. "Goods and Services Tax" would be a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India, to replace taxes levied by the Central and State governments. GST would be levied and collected at each stage of sale or purchase of goods or services based on the input tax credit method. This method allows GST-registered businesses to claim tax credit to the value of GST they paid on purchase of goods or services as part of their normal commercial activity. Taxable goods and services are not distinguished from one another and are taxed at a single rate in a supply chain till the goods or services reach the consumer. Administrative responsibility would generally rest with a single authority to levy tax on goods and services. Exports would be zero-rated and imports would be levied the same taxes as domestic goods and services adhering to the destination principle. .
The introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be a significant step in the reform of indirect taxation in India. Amalgamating several Central and State taxes into a single tax would mitigate cascading or double taxation, facilitating a common national market. The simplicity of the tax should lead to easier administration and enforcement.From the consumer point of view, the biggest advantage would be in terms of a reduction in the overall tax burden on goods, which is currently estimated at 25%-30%
As India is a federal republic GST would be implemented concurrently by the central government and by state governments.
Highlights of the Bill
- The Bill amends the Constitution to introduce the goods and services tax (GST).
- Parliament and state legislatures will have concurrent powers to make laws on GST. Only the centre may levy an integrated GST (IGST) on the interstate supply of goods and services, and imports.
- Alcohol for human consumption has been exempted from the purview of GST. GST will apply to five petroleum products at a later date.
- The GST Council will recommend rates of tax, period of levy of additional tax, principles of supply, special provisions to certain states etc. The GST Council will consist of the Union Finance Minister, Union Minister of State for Revenue, and state Finance Ministers.
- The Bill empowers the centre to impose an additional tax of up to 1%, on the inter-state supply of goods for two years or more. This tax will accrue to states from where the supply originates.
- Parliament may, by law, provide compensation to states for any loss of revenue from the introduction of GST, up to a five year period.