GST legislation was aimed at removing numerous indirect taxes, such as excise, VAT, and service tax, and replacing it with GST. It is often termed as a ‘revolutionary’ reform in the Indian tax structure after the liberalization of the Indian economy. Currently, more than 140 countries across the world have a GST tax framework.
Fresh from spectacular victories in the recent assembly elections, the Modi government could get the GST legislations passed in the parliament without much trouble. The stage now seems all set to meet the July 1 deadline for rollout of GST.
Major points related to the recently passed GST law are as follows:
- The GST Council has come up with a 4-tier tax structure, with the lowest tax slab fixed at 5%, followed by brackets of 12%, 18%, and 28%. But, if we read between the fine line, there are chances of the tax rate go up to 40%
- The GST Council is racing to finish an important task of classifying ~5,000 goods and services into four GST slabs before it can be rolled out
- A business entity with turnover of up to 20 Lakhs will not require registration
- Anti-profiteering clause has been inserted to ensure that tax reduction is passed on to the end consumers
- The cess on luxury and demerit goods, such as cigarettes, will still be collected for at least 5 years after rolling out GST. The proceeds will be used to compensate states that will be incurring losses due to GST
Benefits of GST:
- GST promises to make India more business friendly and reduce corruption. The number of tax inspectors that business enterprises have to deal with on a daily basis will reduce substantially. Also, because of tax credit for all taxes paid in previous stages, distributors will prefer to buy goods from manufacturers with invoices
- The unorganized sector accounts for 94% of the Indian economy and is not properly represented in the GDP. With the advent of GST, it is expected that a large section of the unorganized business establishments will come under the formal economy. Many analysts estimate that the GDP will rise by 2% due to the implementation of GST
- Currently, there is a wide disparity in tax collections between manufacturing states, such as Maharashtra and Gujrat, and non-manufacturing states, such as Bihar. This will change under GST, as it’s like a consumption tax and therefore more taxes will flow in states in which the goods and services are consumed. This will help improve the fiscal position of underdeveloped states with less finances
- The tax base is likely to expand on the back of better compliance under GST
- In the long run, it is expected to be beneficial for end consumers as the prices of goods and services are expected to come down
Pitfalls of GST:
- Services that account for more than 55% of the GDP will become costlier, e.g., telecom, banking, and insurance
- With multiple tax rates and imposition of cess, the original idea of a single tax rate stands breached. Also, there is a possibility of tax rates going up to 40% in the future
- The window of just 3 months will be very challenging for business enterprises to migrate to the GST regime. The will specifically affect small business enterprises
- Contrary to belief, the GST Bill does not provide for what the central government has been ardently promoting as ‘One Nation, One Tax’ regime. The states and Centre will still be levying separate taxes on interstate and intercity movement of goods. Also, taxation of products, such as fuel, real estate, and alcohol, are outside the purview of GST
- Sometimes, during the initial implementation phase of GST, there can be high inflation and lower consumption
- Last but not the least, GST, like all indirect taxes, is regressive in nature and will hurt the poor more. Hence the greater the GST rate, greater the regressivity.
With the government going all out to turn the bill into reality in a couple of months from now, the Indian tax structure is set to witness a tectonic shift. GST will certainly help create a transparent and conducive taxation policy, but whether the economy is ready for such a monumental change remains to be seen.
Let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.
Authored by: Vaibhav Aggarwal and Rahul Dhuria