GST is known as the Goods and Services Tax. It is an indirect tax which has replaced many indirect taxes in India such as the excise duty, VAT, services tax, etc. The Goods and Service Tax Act was passed in the Parliament on 29th March 2017 and came into effect on 1st July 2017.
In other words,Goods and Service Tax (GST) is levied on the supply of goods and services. Goods and Services Tax Law in India is a comprehensive, multi-stage, destination-based tax that is levied on every value addition. GST is a single domestic indirect tax law for the entire country. Under the GST regime, the tax is levied at every point of sale. In the case of intra-state sales, Central GST and State GST are charged. All the inter-state sales are chargeable to the Integrated GST.
Objectives Of GST
1. To achieve the ideology of ‘One Nation, One Tax’
GST has replaced multiple indirect taxes, which were existing under the previous tax regime. The advantage of having one single tax means every state follows the same rate for a particular product or service. Tax administration is easier with the Central Government deciding the rates and policies. Common laws can be introduced, such as e-way bills for goods transport and e-invoicing for transaction reporting. Tax compliance is also better as taxpayers are not bogged down with multiple return forms and deadlines. Overall, it’s a unified system of indirect tax compliance.
2. To subsume a majority of the indirect taxes in India
India had several erstwhile indirect taxes such as service tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), Central Excise, etc., which used to be levied at multiple supply chain stages. Some taxes were governed by the states and some by the Centre. There was no unified and centralised tax on both goods and services. Hence, GST was introduced. Under GST, all the major indirect taxes were subsumed into one. It has greatly reduced the compliance burden on taxpayers and eased tax administration for the government.
3. To eliminate the cascading effect of taxes
One of the primary objectives of GST was to remove the cascading effect of taxes. Previously, due to different indirect tax laws, taxpayers could not set off the tax credits of one tax against the other. For example, the excise duties paid during manufacture could not be set off against the VAT payable during the sale. This led to a cascading effect of taxes. Under GST, the tax levy is only on the net value added at each stage of the supply chain. This has helped eliminate the cascading effect of taxes and contributed to the seamless flow of input tax credits across both goods and services.
4. To curb tax evasion
GST laws in India are far more stringent compared to any of the erstwhile indirect tax laws. Under GST, taxpayers can claim an input tax credit only on invoices uploaded by their respective suppliers. This way, the chances of claiming input tax credits on fake invoices are minimal. The introduction of e-invoicing has further reinforced this objective. Also, due to GST being a nationwide tax and having a centralised surveillance system, the clampdown on defaulters is quicker and far more efficient. Hence, GST has curbed tax evasion and minimised tax fraud from taking place to a large extent.
5. To increase the taxpayer base
GST has helped in widening the tax base in India. Previously, each of the tax laws had a different threshold limit for registration based on turnover. As GST is a consolidated tax levied on both goods and services both, it has increased tax-registered businesses. Besides, the stricter laws surrounding input tax credits have helped bring certain unorganised sectors under the tax net. For example, the construction industry in India.
6. Online procedures for ease of doing business
Previously, taxpayers faced a lot of hardships dealing with different tax authorities under each tax law. Besides, while return filing was online, most of the assessment and refund procedures took place offline. Now, GST procedures are carried out almost entirely online. Everything is done with a click of a button, from registration to return filing to refunds to e-way bill generation. It has contributed to the overall ease of doing business in India and simplified taxpayer compliance to a massive extent. The government also plans to introduce a centralised portal soon for all indirect tax compliance such as e-invoicing, e-way bills and GST return filing.
7 An improved logistics and distribution system
A single indirect tax system reduces the need for multiple documentation for the supply of goods. GST minimises transportation cycle times, improves supply chain and turnaround time, and leads to warehouse consolidation, among other benefits. With the e-way bill system under GST, the removal of interstate checkpoints is most beneficial to the sector in improving transit and destination efficiency. Ultimately, it helps in cutting down the high logistics and warehousing costs.
8 To promote competitive pricing and increase consumption
Introducing GST has also led to an increase in consumption and indirect tax revenues. Due to the cascading effect of taxes under the previous regime, the prices of goods in India were higher than in global markets. Even between states, the lower VAT rates in certain states led to an imbalance of purchases in these states. Having uniform GST rates have contributed to overall competitive pricing across India and on the global front. This has hence increased consumption and led to higher revenues, which has been another important objective achieved.