First Discussion Paper on GST In India
The Empowered Committee of
State Finance Ministers
November 10, 2009
• Preparation for GST
• Goods & Services Tax Model for India
• Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on GST
If the Value Added Tax (VAT) is considered to be a major improvement over the pre-existing Central excise duty at the national level and the sales tax system at the State level, then the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be a further significant breakthrough – the next logical step - towards a comprehensive indirect tax reform in the country.
Keeping this overall objective in view, an announcement was made by Shri P. Chidambaram, the then Union Finance Minister in the Central Budget (2007-2008) to the effect that GST would be introduced from April 1, 2010 and that the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, on his request, would work with the Central Government to prepare a road map for introduction of GST in India. After this announcement, the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers decided to set up a Joint Working Group (May 10, 2007), with the then Adviser to the Union Finance Minister and the Member-Secretary of Empowered Committee as Co-convenors and the concerned Joint Secretaries of the Department of Revenue of Union Finance Ministry and all Finance Secretaries of the States as its members. This Joint Working Group, after intensive internal discussions as well as interaction with experts and representatives of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, submitted its report to the Empowered Committee (November 19, 2007).
This report was then discussed in detail in the meeting of Empowered Committee (November 28, 2007). On the basis of this discussion and written observations of the States, certain modifications were made and a final version of the views of Empowered Committee at that stage was prepared and was sent to the Government of India (April 30, 2008). The comments of the Government of India were received on December 12, 2008 and were duly considered by the Empowered Committee (December 16, 2008). It was decided that a Committee of Principal Secretaries/ Secretaries of Finance/ Taxation and Commissioners of Trade Taxes of the States would be set up to consider these comments, and submit their views. These views were submitted and were accepted in principle by the Empowered Committee (January 21, 2009). Consequent upon this in-principle acceptance, a Working Group, consisting of the concerned officials of the State Governments was formed who, in close association with senior representatives of the Government of India, submitted their recommendations in detail on the structure of GST. An important interaction has also recently taken place between Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the Union Finance Minister and the Empowered Committee (October 19, 2009) on the related issue of compensation for loss of the States on account of phasing out of CST. The Empowered Committee has now taken a detailed view on the recommendations of the Working Group of officials and other related matters. This detailed view of the Empowered Committee on the structure of GST is now presented in terms of the First Discussion Paper, along with an Annexure on Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on GST, for discussions with industry, trade, agriculture and people at large.
The Discussion Paper is divided into four sections. Since GST would be further improvement over the VAT, Section 1 begins with a brief reference to the process of introduction of VAT at the Centre and the States and also indicates the precise points where there is a need for further improvement. This section also shows how the GST can bring about this improvement. With this as the background for justification of GST, Section 2 then describes the process of preparation for GST. Thereafter, Section 3 presents in detail the comprehensive structure of the GST model. For illustrating this GST model further, there is in the end an Annexure on Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.
This Discussion Paper has been the result of truly collective efforts on the basis of hard work of all the concerned officials of the States, the officials of Empowered Committee Secretariat and the Adviser and officials of the Union Finance Ministry, the counsel and active participation of Finance Ministers and concerned Senior Ministers of the States at each stage, and the encouragement and advice of the Union Finance Minister. With the release of this First Discussion Paper and the Annexure on Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, we now sincerely invite interaction with the representatives of industry, trade, agriculture and common people. This interaction and campaign will immediately start at the national level and at the State levels. As a part of this interaction, we look forward to receiving the views of industry, trade, agriculture as well as consumers in a time-bound manner.
Asim Kumar Dasgupta
Empowered Committee of
State Finance Ministers
Minister of Finance & Excise,
Government of West Bengal
November 10, 2009
1.1 Introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) at the Central and the State level has been considered to be a major step – an important breakthrough – in the sphere of indirect tax reforms in India. If the VAT is a major improvement over the pre-existing Central excise duty at the national level and the sales tax system at the State level, then the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will indeed be a further significant improvement – the next logical step – towards a comprehensive indirect tax reforms in the country.
1.2 Keeping this objective in view, an announcement was made by the then Union Finance Minister in the Central Budget (2007-08) to the effect that GST would be introduced with effect from April 1, 2010 and that the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, on his request, would work with the Central Government to prepare a road map for introduction of GST in India. After this announcement, the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers decided to set up a Joint Working Group (May 10, 2007), with the then Adviser to the Union Finance Minister and Member-Secretary of the Empowered Committee as its Co-convenors and concerned four Joint Secretaries of the Department of Revenue of Union Finance Ministry and all Finance Secretaries of the States as its members. This Joint Working Group got itself divided into three Sub-Groups and had several rounds of internal discussions as well as interaction with experts and representatives of Chambers of Commerce & Industry. On the basis of these discussions and interaction, the Sub-Groups submitted their reports which were then integrated and consolidated into the report of
Joint Working Group (November 19, 2007).
1.3 This report was discussed in detail in the meeting of the Empowered Committee on November 28, 2007, and the States were also requested to communicate their observations on the report in writing. On the basis of these discussions in the Empowered Committee and the written observations, certain modifications were considered necessary and were discussed with the Co-convenors and the representatives of the Department of Revenue of Union Finance Ministry. With the modifications duly made, a final version of the views of Empowered Committee on the model and road map for the GST was prepared (April 30, 2008). These views of Empowered Committee were then sent to the Government of India, and the comments of Government of India were received on December 12, 2008. These comments were duly considered by the Empowered Committee (December 16, 2008), and it was decided that a Committee of Principal Secretaries/Secretaries of Finance/Taxation and Commissioners of Trade Taxes of the States would be set up to consider these comments, and submit their views. These views were submitted and were accepted in principle by the Empowered Committee (January 21, 2009). As a follow-up of this in-principle acceptance, a Working Group consisting of the concerned officials of the State Governments was formed who, in association with senior representatives of Government of India, submitted their recommendations in detail on the structure of GST. An important interaction has also recently taken place between Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the Union Finance Minister and the Empowered Committee (October 19, 2009) on the related issue of compensation for loss of the States on account of phasing out of CST. The Empowered Committee has now taken a detailed view on the recommendations of the Working Group of officials and other related matters. This detailed view is now presented in terms of the First Discussion Paper, along with an Annexure on Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on GST, for discussion with industry, trade, agriculture and people at large. Since the GST at the Centre and States would be a further improvement over the VAT, a brief recalling of the process of introduction of VAT in India is worthwhile.
Value Added Tax at the Central and the State level
1.4 Prior to the introduction of VAT in the Centre and in the States, there was a burden of multiple taxation in the pre-existing Central excise duty and the State sales tax systems. Before any commodity was produced, inputs were first taxed, and then after the commodity got produced with input tax load, output was taxed again. This was causing a burden of multiple taxation (i.e. “tax on tax”) with a cascading effect. Moreover, in the sales tax structure, when there was also a system of multi-point sales taxation at subsequent levels of distributive trade, then along with input tax load, burden of sales tax paid on purchase at each level was also added, thus aggravating the cascading effect further.
1.5 When VAT is introduced in place of Central excise duty, a set-off is given, i.e., a deduction is made from the overall tax burden for input tax. In the case of VAT in place of sales tax system, a set-off is given from tax burden not only for input tax paid but also for tax paid on previous purchases. With VAT, the problem of “tax on tax” and related burden of cascading effect is thus removed. Furthermore, since the benefit of set-off can be obtained only if tax is duly paid on inputs (in the case of Central VAT), and on both inputs and on previous purchases (in the case of State VAT), there is a built-in check in the VAT structure on tax compliance in the Centre as well as in the States, with expected results in terms of improvement in transparency and reduction in tax evasion. For these beneficial effects, VAT has now been introduced in more than 150 countries, including several federal countries. In Asia, it has now been introduced in almost all the countries.
1.6 In India, VAT was introduced at the Central level for a selected number of commodities in terms of MODVAT with effect from March 1, 1986, and in a step-by-step manner for all commodities in terms of CENVAT in 2002-03. Subsequently, after Constitutional Amendment empowering the Centre to levy taxes on services, these service taxes were also added to CENVAT in 2004-05. Although the growth of tax revenue from the Central excise has not always been specially high, the revenue growth of combined CENVAT and service taxes has been significant.
1.7 Introduction of VAT in the States has been a more challenging exercise in a federal country like India, where each State, in terms of Constitutional provision, is sovereign in levying and collecting State taxes. Before introduction of VAT, in the sales tax regime, apart from the problem of multiple taxation and burden of adverse cascading effect of taxes as already mentioned, there was also no harmony in the rates of sales tax on different commodities among the States. Not only were the rates of sales tax numerous (often more than ten in several States), and different from one another for the same commodity in different States, but there was also an unhealthy competition among the States in terms of sales tax rates – so-called “rate war” – often resulting in, revenue-wise, a counter-productive situation.
1.8 It is in this background that attempts were made by the States to introduce a harmonious VAT in the States, keeping at the same time in mind the issue of sovereignty of the States regarding the State tax matters. The first preliminary discussion on State-level VAT took place in a meeting of Chief Ministers convened by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Union Finance Minister in 1995. In this meeting, the basic issues on VAT were discussed in general terms and this was followed up by periodic interactions of State Finance Ministers. Thereafter, in a significant meeting of all the Chief Ministers, convened on November 16, 1999 by Shri Yashwant Sinha, the then Union Finance Minister, two important decisions, among others, were taken. First, before the introduction of State-level VAT, the unhealthy sales tax “rate war” among the States would have to end, and sales tax rates would need to be harmonised by implementing uniform floor rates of sales tax for different categories of commodities with effect from January 1, 2000. Secondly, on the basis of achievement of the first objective, steps would be taken by the States for introduction of State-level VAT after adequate preparation. For implementing these decisions, a Standing Committee of State Finance Ministers was formed which was then made an Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers.
1.9 Thereafter, the Empowered Committee has met regularly. All the decisions were taken on the basis of consensus. On the strength of these repeated discussions and collective efforts, involving the Ministers and the concerned officials, it was possible within a period of about a year and a half to achieve nearly 98 per cent success in the first objective, namely, harmonisation of sales tax structure through implementation of uniform floor rates of sales tax.
1.10 After reaching this stage, steps were initiated for systematic preparation for introduction of State-level VAT. In order again to avoid any unhealthy competition among the States which may lead to distortions in manufacturing and trade, attempts have been made from the very beginning to harmonise the VAT design in the States, keeping also in view the distinctive features of each State and the need for federal flexibility. This has been done by the States collectively agreeing, through discussions in the Empowered Committee, to certain common points of convergence regarding VAT, and allowing at the same time certain flexibility to accommodate the local characteristics of the States. In the course of these discussions, references to the Tenth Five Year Plan Report of the Advisory Group on Tax Policies & Tax Administration (2001) and the report of Kelkar (Chairman) Task Force were helpful.
1.11 Along with these measures, steps were taken for necessary training, computerization and interaction with trade and industry. While these preparatory steps were taken, the Empowered Committee got a significant support from Shri P. Chidambaram, the then Union Finance Minister, when he responded positively in providing Central financial support to the States in the event of loss of revenue in transitional years of implementation of VAT.
1.12 As a consequence of all these steps, the States started implementing VAT beginning April 1, 2005. After overcoming the initial difficulties, all the States and Union Territories have now implemented VAT. The Empowered Committee has been monitoring closely the process of implementation of State-level VAT, and deviations from the agreed VAT rates has been contained to less than 3 per cent of the total list of commodities. Responses of industry and also of trade have been indeed encouraging. The rate of growth of tax revenue has nearly doubled from the average annual rate of growth in the pre-VAT five year period after the introduction of VAT.
Justification of GST
1.13 Despite this success with VAT, there are still certain shortcomings in the structure of VAT both at the Central and at the State level. The shortcoming in CENVAT of the Government of India lies in non-inclusion of several Central taxes in the overall framework of CENVAT, such as additional customs duty, surcharges, etc., and thus keeping the benefits of comprehensive input tax and service tax set-off out of reach for manufacturers/dealers. Moreover, no step has yet been taken to capture the value-added chain in the distribution trade below the manufacturing level in the existing scheme of CENVAT. The introduction of GST at the Central level will not only include comprehensively more indirect Central taxes and integrate goods and service taxes for the purpose of set-off relief, but may also lead to revenue gain for the Centre through widening of the dealer base by capturing value addition in the distributive trade and increased compliance.
1.14 In the existing State-level VAT structure there are also certain shortcomings as follows. There are, for instance, even now, several taxes which are in the nature of indirect tax on goods and services, such as luxury tax, entertainment tax, etc., and yet not subsumed in the VAT. Moreover, in the present State-level VAT scheme, CENVAT load on the goods remains included in the value of goods to be taxed under State VAT, and contributing to that extent a cascading effect on account of CENVAT element. This CENVAT load needs to be removed. Furthermore, any commodity, in general, is produced on the basis of physical inputs as well as services, and there should be integration of VAT on goods with tax on services at the State level as well, and at the same time there should also be removal of cascading effect of service tax. In the GST, both the cascading effects of CENVAT and service tax are removed with set-off, and a continuous chain of set-off from the original producer’s point and service provider’s point upto the retailer’s level is established which reduces the burden of all cascading effects. This is the essence of GST, and this is why GST is not simply VAT plus service tax but an improvement over the previous system of VAT and disjointed service tax. However, for this GST to be introduced at the State level, it is essential that the States should be given the power of levy of taxation of all services. This power of levy of service taxes has so long been only with the Centre. A Constitutional Amendment will be made for giving this power also to the States. Moreover, with the introduction of GST, burden of Central Sales Tax (CST) will also be removed. The GST at the State-level is, therefore, justified for (a) additional power of levy of taxation of services for the States, (b) system of comprehensive set-off relief, including set-off for cascading burden of CENVAT and service taxes, (c) subsuming of several taxes in the GST and (d) removal of burden of CST. Because of the removal of cascading effect, the burden of tax under GST on goods will, in general, fall.
1.15 The GST at the Central and at the State level will thus give more relief to industry, trade, agriculture and consumers through a more comprehensive and wider coverage of input tax set-off and service tax setoff, subsuming of several taxes in the GST and phasing out of CST. With the GST being properly formulated by appropriate calibration of rates and adequate compensation where necessary, there may also be revenue/ resource gain for both the Centre and the States, primarily through widening of tax base and possibility of a significant improvement in tax-compliance. In other words, the GST may usher in the possibility of a collective gain for industry, trade, agriculture and common consumers as well as for the Central Government and the State Governments. The GST may, indeed, lead to the possibility of collectively positive-sum game.
2. Preparation for GST
2.1 Keeping this significance of GST in view, an announcement was made by the then Union Finance Minister in the Union Budget, as mentioned before, to the effect that GST would be introduced from April 1, 2010, and that the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers would work with the Central Government to prepare a road map for introduction of the GST. After this announcement, the Empowered Committee, as stated earlier, had set up a Joint Working Group which submitted a report on a model and road map for GST. After accommodating the views of the States appropriately on this report, the views of the Empowered Committee on the model and road map were sent to the Government of India on 30th April, 2008. The comments of the Government of India were received on 12th December, 2008. These comments were duly considered by the Empowered Committee in its meeting held on 16th December, 2008 and it was decided that a Committee of Principal Secretaries/Secretaries (Finance/Taxation) and Commissioners of Trade Taxes should consider the comments received from the Government of India and submit its views and also work out the Central GST and State GST rates. The Committee held detailed deliberations on 5th and 6th January, 2009, and submitted its recommendations to the Empowered Committee. The Empowered Committee considered these recommendations in its meeting held on 21st January, 2009 and accepted them in principle. The Empowered Committee also decided to constitute a Working Group consisting of Principal Secretaries/Secretaries (Finance/Taxation) and Commissioners of Trade Taxes of all States/UTs to give their recommendations on (a) the commodities and services that should be kept in the exempted list, (b) the rules and principles of taxing the transactions of services including the transactions in inter-State services, and (c) finalization of the model suggested for inter-state transaction/movement of goods including stock transfers in consultation with the State Bank of India and some other nationalized banks. It was also decided that the senior representatives from the Government of India may also be associated. The Working Group deliberated on the issues on 10th February, 2009 and decided to form three Sub Working Groups to deliberate each item in depth. The Reports of the Working Group on the three issues have already been received, and the Empowered Committee has taken a view on these recommendations for concluding the details of GST structure.
2.2 While making this preparation of GST, it was also necessary, as mentioned earlier, to phase out the CST, because it did not carry any set-off relief and there was a distortion in the VAT regime due to export of tax from one State to other State. The Empowered Committee accordingly took a decision to phase out CST on the understanding with the Centre that, since phasing out of CST would result in a loss of revenue to the States on a permanent basis, an appropriate mechanism to compensate the States for such loss would be worked out. The rate of CST has already been reduced to 2% and will be phased out with effect from the date of introduction of GST on the basis of such GST structure which, with necessary financial support to the States, should adequately compensate for the loss of the States on a permanent basis. With these steps at preparation in mind, it is important now to turn to the proposed model of GST.
3. Goods & Services Tax Model For India
3.1 It is important to take note of the significant administrative issues involved in designing an effective GST model in a federal system with the objective of having an overall harmonious structure of rates. Together with this, there is a need for upholding the powers of Central and State Governments in their taxation matters. Further, there is also the need to propose a model that would be easily implementable, while being generally acceptable to stakeholders
Salient features of the GST model
3.2 Keeping in view the report of the Joint Working Group on Goods and Services Tax, the views received from the States and Government of India, a dual GST structure with defined functions and responsibilities of the Centre and the States is recommended. An appropriate mechanism that will be binding on both the Centre and the States would be worked out whereby the harmonious rate structure along with the need for further modification could be upheld, if necessary with a collectively agreed Constitutional Amendment. Salient features of the proposed model are as follows:
(i) The GST shall have two components: one levied by the Centre (hereinafter referred to as Central GST), and the other levied by the States (hereinafter referred to as State GST). Rates for Central GST and State GST would be prescribed appropriately, reflecting revenue considerations and acceptability. This dual GST model would be implemented through multiple statutes (one for CGST and SGST statute for every State). However, the basic features of law such as chargeability, definition of taxable event and taxable person, measure of levy including valuation provisions, basis of classification etc. would be uniform across these statutes as far as practicable.
(ii) The Central GST and the State GST would be applicable to all transactions of goods and services made for a consideration except the exempted goods and services, goods which are outside the purview of GST and the transactions which are below the prescribed threshold limits.
(iii) The Central GST and State GST are to be paid to the accounts of the Centre and the States separately. It would have to be ensured that account-heads for all services and goods would have indication whether it relates to Central GST or State GST (with identification of the State to whom the tax is to be credited).
(iv) Since the Central GST and State GST are to be treated separately, taxes paid against the Central GST shall be allowed to be taken as input tax credit (ITC) for the Central GST and could be utilized only against the payment of Central GST. The same principle will be applicable for the State GST. A taxpayer or exporter would have to maintain separate details in books of account for utilization or refund of credit. Further, the rules for taking and utilization of credit for the Central GST and the State GST would be aligned.
(v) Cross utilization of ITC between the Central GST and the State GST would not be allowed except in the case of inter-State supply of goods and services under the IGST model which is explained later.
(vi) Ideally, the problem related to credit accumulation on account of refund of GST should be avoided by both the Centre and the States except in the cases such as exports, purchase of capital goods, input tax at higher rate than output tax etc. where, again refund/adjustment should be completed in a time bound manner.
(vii) To the extent feasible, uniform procedure for collection of both Central GST and State GST would be prescribed in the respective legislation for Central GST and State GST.
(viii) The administration of the Central GST to the Centre and for State GST to the States would be given. This would imply that the Centre and the States would have concurrent jurisdiction for the entire value chain and for all taxpayers on the basis of thresholds for goods and services prescribed for the States and the Centre.
(ix) The present threshold prescribed in different State VAT Acts below which VAT is not applicable varies from State to State. A uniform State GST threshold across States is desirable and, therefore, it is considered that a threshold of gross annual turnover of Rs.10 lakh both for goods and services for all the States and Union Territories may be adopted with adequate compensation for the States (particularly, the States in North-Eastern Region and Special Category States) where lower threshold had prevailed in the VAT regime. Keeping in view the interest of small traders and small scale industries and to avoid dual control, the States also considered that the threshold for Central GST for goods may be kept at Rs.1.5 crore and the threshold for Central GST for services may also be appropriately high. It may be mentioned that even now there is a separate threshold of services (Rs. 10 lakh) and goods (Rs. 1.5 crore) in the Service Tax and CENVAT.
(x) The States are also of the view that Composition/Compounding Scheme for the purpose of GST should have an upper ceiling on gross annual turnover and a floor tax rate with respect to gross annual turnover. In particular, there would be a compounding cut-off at Rs. 50 lakh of gross annual turn over and a floor rate of 0.5% across the States. The scheme would also allow option for GST registration for dealers with turnover below the compounding cut-off.
(xi) The taxpayer would need to submit periodical returns, in common format as far as possible, to both the Central GST authority and to the concerned State GST authorities.
(xii) Each taxpayer would be allotted a PAN-linked taxpayer identification number with a total of 13/15 digits. This would bring the GST PAN-linked system in line with the prevailing PAN-based system for Income tax, facilitating data exchange and taxpayer compliance.
(xiii) Keeping in mind the need of tax payer’s convenience, functions such as assessment, enforcement, scrutiny and audit would be undertaken by the authority which is collecting the tax, with information sharing between the Centre and the States.
Central and State Taxes to be subsumed under GST
3.3 The various Central, State and Local levies were examined to identify their possibility of being subsumed under GST. While identifying, the following principles were kept in mind:
(i) Taxes or levies to be subsumed should be primarily in the nature of indirect taxes, either on the supply of goods or on the supply of services.
(ii) Taxes or levies to be subsumed should be part of the transaction chain which commences with import/manufacture/ production of goods or provision of services at one end and the consumption of goods and services at the other.
(iii) The sub-summation should result in free flow of tax credit in intra and inter-State levels.
(iv) The taxes, levies and fees that are not specifically related to supply of goods & services should not be subsumed under GST.
(v) Revenue fairness for both the Union and the States individually would need to be attempted.
3.4 On application of the above principles, it is recommended that the following Central Taxes should be, to begin with, subsumed under the Goods and Services Tax:
(i) Central Excise Duty
(ii) Additional Excise Duties
(iii) The Excise Duty levied under the Medicinal and Toiletries Preparation Act
(iv) Service Tax
(v) Additional Customs Duty, commonly known as Countervailing Duty (CVD)
(vi) Special Additional Duty of Customs - 4% (SAD)
(vii) Surcharges, and
Following State taxes and levies would be, to begin with, subsumed under GST:
(i) VAT / Sales tax
(ii) Entertainment tax (unless it is levied by the local bodies).
(iii) Luxury tax
(iv) Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling.
(v) State Cesses and Surcharges in so far as they relate to supply of goods and services.
(vi) Entry tax not in lieu of Octroi.
Purchase tax: Some of the States felt that they are getting substantial revenue from Purchase Tax and, therefore, it should not be subsumed under GST while majority of the States were of the view that no such exemptions should be given. The difficulties of the foodgrains producing States and certain other States were appreciated as substantial revenue is being earned by them from Purchase Tax and it was, therefore, felt that in case Purchase Tax has to be subsumed then adequate and continuing compensation has to be provided to such States. This issue is being discussed in consultation with the Government of India.
Tax on items containing Alcohol:
Alcoholic beverages would be kept out of the purview of GST. Sales Tax/VAT can be continued to be levied on alcoholic beverages as per the existing practice. In case it has been made Vatable by some States, there is no objection to that. Excise Duty, which is presently being levied by the States may not be also affected.
Tax on Tobacco products:
Tobacco products would be subjected to GST with ITC. Centre may be allowed to levy excise duty on tobacco products over and above GST without ITC.
Tax on Petroleum Products:
As far as petroleum products are concerned, it was decided that the basket of petroleum products, i.e. crude, motor spirit (including ATF) and HSD would be kept outside GST as is the prevailing practice in India. Sales Tax could continue to be levied by the States on these products with prevailing floor rate. Similarly, Centre could also continue its levies. A final view whether Natural Gas should be kept outside the GST will be taken after further deliberations.
Taxation of Services : As indicated earlier, both the Centre and the States will have concurrent power to levy tax on all goods and services. In the case of States, the principle for taxation of intra-State and inter-State has already been formulated by the Working Group of Principal Secretaries/Secretaries of Finance/Taxation and Commissioners of Trade Taxes with senior representatives of Department of Revenue, Government of India. For inter-State transactions an innovative model of Integrated GST will be adopted by appropriately aligning and integrating CGST and SGST. The working of this model is elaborated below.
3.5 Inter-State Transactions of Goods and Services
The Empowered Committee has accepted the recommendations of the Working Group of concerned officials of Central and State Governments for adoption of IGST model for taxation of inter-State transaction of Goods and Services. The scope of IGST Model is that Centre would levy IGST which would be CGST plus SGST on all inter-State transactions of taxable goods and services with appropriate provision for consignment or stock transfer of goods and services. The inter-State seller will pay IGST on value addition after adjusting available credit of IGST, CGST, and SGST on his purchases. The Exporting State will transfer to the Centre the credit of SGST used in payment of IGST. The Importing dealer will claim credit of IGST while discharging his output tax liability in his own State. The Centre will transfer to the importing State the credit of IGST used in payment of SGST. The relevant information will also be submitted to the Central Agency which will act as a clearing house mechanism, verify the claims and inform the respective governments to transfer the funds. The major advantages of IGST Model are:
a) Maintenance of uninterrupted ITC chain on inter-State transactions.
b) No upfront payment of tax or substantial blockage of funds for the inter-State seller or buyer.
c) No refund claim in exporting State, as ITC is used up while paying the tax.
d) Self monitoring model.
e) Level of computerization is limited to inter-State dealers and Central and State Governments should be able to computerize their processes expeditiously.
f) As all inter-State dealers will be e-registered and correspondence with them will be by e-mail, the compliance level will improve substantially.
g) Model can take ‘Business to Business’ as well as ‘Business to Consumer’ transactions into account.
3.6 GST Rate Structure
The Empowered Committee has decided to adopt a two-rate structure –a lower rate for necessary items and goods of basic importance and a standard rate for goods in general. There will also be a special rate for precious metals and a list of exempted items. For upholding of special needs of each State as well as a balanced approach to federal flexibility, and also for facilitating the introduction of GST, it is being discussed whether the exempted list under VAT regime including Goods of Local Importance may be retained in the exempted list under State GST in the initial years. It is also being discussed whether the Government of India may adopt, to begin with, a similar approach towards exempted list under the CGST. The States are of the view that for CGST relating to goods, the Government of India may also have a two-rate structure, with conformity in the levels of rate under the SGST. For taxation of services, there may be a single rate for both CGST and SGST. The exact value of the SGST and CGST rates, including the rate for services, will be made known duly in course of appropriate legislative actions.
3.7 Zero Rating of Exports
Exports would be zero-rated. Similar benefits may be given to Special Economic Zones (SEZs). However, such benefits will only be allowed to the processing zones of the SEZs. No benefit to the sales from an SEZ to Domestic Tariff Area (DTA) will be allowed.
3.8 GST on Imports:
The GST will be levied on imports with necessary Constitutional Amendments. Both CGST and SGST will be levied on import of goods and services into the country. The incidence of tax will follow the destination principle and the tax revenue in case of SGST will accrue to the State where the imported goods and services are consumed. Full and complete set-off will be available on the GST paid on import on goods and services.
3.9 Special Industrial Area Scheme
After the introduction of GST, the tax exemptions, remissions etc. related to industrial incentives should be converted, if at all needed, into cash refund schemes after collection of tax, so that the GST scheme on the basis of a continuous chain of set-offs is not disturbed. Regarding Special Industrial Area Schemes, it is clarified that such exemptions, remissions etc. would continue up to legitimate expiry time both for the Centre and the States. Any new exemption, remission etc. or continuation of earlier exemption, remission etc. would not be allowed. In such cases, the Central and the State Governments could provide reimbursement after collecting GST.
3.10 IT Infrastructure
After acceptance of IGST Model for Inter-State transactions, the major responsibilities of IT infrastructural requirement will be shared by the Central Government through the use of its own IT infrastructure facility. The issues of tying up the State Infrastructure facilities with the Central facilities as well as further improvement of the States’ own IT infrastructure, including TINXSYS, is now to be addressed expeditiously and in a time bound manner.
3.11 Constitutional Amendments, Legislations and Rules for administration of CGST and SGST
It is essential to have Constitutional Amendments for empowering the States for levy of service tax, GST on imports and consequential issues as well as corresponding Central and State legislations with associated rules and procedures. With these specific tasks in view, a Joint Working Group has recently been constituted (September 30, 2009) comprising of the officials of the Central and State Governments to prepare, in a time bound manner a draft legislation for Constitutional Amendment, draft legislation for CGST, a suitable Model Legislation for SGST and rules and procedures for CGST and SGST. Simultaneous steps have also been initiated for drafting of a legislation for IGST and rules and procedures. As a part of this exercise, the Working Group will also address the issues of dispute resolution and advance
3.12 Harmonious structure of GST and the States’ autonomy in a Federal Framework
As a part of the exercise on Constitutional Amendment, a special attention would be given, as mentioned earlier in para 3.2, to the formulation of a mechanism for upholding the need for a harmonious structure for GST along with the concern for the States’ autonomy in a federal structure.
3.13 Dispute Resolution and Advance Ruling
As a part of the exercise on drafting of legislation, rules and procedures for the administration of CGST and SGST, specific provisions would also be made to the issues of dispute resolution and advance ruling.
3.14 Need for compensation during implementation of GST
Despite the sincere attempts being made by the Empowered Committee on the determination of GST rate structure, revenue neutral rates, it is difficult to estimate accurately as to how much the States will gain from service taxes and how much they will lose on account of removal of cascading effect, payment of input tax credit and phasing out of CST. In view of this, it would be essential to provide adequately for compensation for loss that might emerge during the process of implementation of GST for the next five years. This issue may be comprehensively taken care of in the recommendations of the Thirteenth Finance Commission. The payment of this compensation will need to be ensured in terms of special grants to be released to the States duly in every month on the basis of neutrally monitored mechanism.
3.15 With the release of this First Discussion Paper and the Annexure on Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on GST, interaction with the representatives of industry, trade and agriculture would begin immediately at the national level, and then also simultaneously at the State levels. Similarly awareness campaign for common consumers would also be initiated at the same time. As a part of the discussion and campaign, the views of the industry, trade and agriculture as well as consumers are being sought in a structured and time bound manner.