Mahesh Jaisingh, Partner, BMR & Associates LLP The GST Law seeks to subsume excise duties, service tax, and value added tax and the taxable event under GST shall purely be the ‘supply’ of goods and services.
Even as the Government is waiting for the approval of the Goods and Services Tax(GST) Constitution Amendment Bill (‘theGST Bill’) from Upper House of the Parliament, the Ministry of Finance has released the draft of the Model GST Law (the ‘GST Law’) after the Empowered Committee of States’ Finance Ministers reached a consensus. The GST Constitution Amendment Bill (‘the GST Bill’) was successfully passed in the Lower House of the Parliament in 2014.
The Law in its present form mandates a dual levy structure with the Centre being empowered to levy Central GST (‘CGST’) and State empowered to levy State GST (‘SGST’) on intra-state supplies of goods as well services, while Integrated Goods and Service tax (‘IGST’) is levied on inter-state supplies of goods and services, which also covers imports into India.
The GST Law seeks to subsume excise duties, service tax, and value added tax and the taxable event under GST shall purely be the ‘supply’ of goods and services. Consequently, the concept of manufacture, entry of goods as taxable incidents is rendered redundant. It comes as a relief to the industry that is burdened with multiple taxes at different stages.
Further, the law seeks to end age-old debate on what constitutes goods vis-a-vis services by laying down specific parameters to determine them. The law provides for an elaborate mechanism for valuation of goods and services when supplied to a related party as against to a non-related party, availment, utilisation, transfer and refund of input tax credit, rules for determination of place of supply of services and goods, rules for defining the time/ point of taxation of supplies, consequently, also the trigger for payment of GST as well as administrative, appellate and transitional provisions.
While the GST Law appears to be comprehensive, the Law is silent on rate of tax. The Revenue Neutral Rate Report (‘RNR Report’) has specified the standard rate of tax to be 18%. Change in rate of GST, which would significantly impact the common man is encapsulated below:
For services – services like banking, insurance, telecommunications used by the common man is likely to prove expensive under the GST regime owing to escalation of GST on supply of services from the current rate of 15% percent to 18% percent.
The current exemption given to crucial sectors such as education and healthcare is expected to continue under the GST regime. However, clarity is elusive on this front.
Dining out is likely to be more pocket friendly with restaurant services being treated as services in toto. Currently, it is treated as dual supply of goods and services under the current scheme, attracting cumulative levy of VAT and service Tax of around 20% to 24%.
With construction also being treated as services, home buyers will not have to pay dual levy of VAT and services. The tax base should in itself stand marginally reduced.
With luxury car sector just finding feet in the Indian Market, possible levy of higher rate of GST would prove to be detrimental to the automobile sector and the consumers (albeit such consumer may not be a common man).
Lastly, globetrotters may be aware that most VAT laws across world provides for refund of VAT paid on goods purchased in the country when a person leaves the country. While the current GST Law does not envisage such refund, the GST framework makes it possible for the Government to adopt the said international best practice – if not in the beginning of GST, may be in a couple of years from now.
It is clear that the common man undoubtedly would be impacted by the roll out of GST. Given that GST envisages seamless flow of credit and addresses issues of dual treatment meted out to certain sectors, one is optimistic that the suppliers of goods and services will pass on the benefits to the common man and help to reduce his overall burden on basic spends.