The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2014, seeks to amend the Constitution of India to facilitate the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country. The proposed amendments in the Constitution will confer powers both to the Parliament and the State legislatures to make laws for levying GST on the supply of goods and services on the same transaction.
Rationale behind moving towards GST:
Presently, the Constitution empowers the Central Government to levy excise duty on manufacturing and service tax on the supply of services. Further, it empowers the State Governments to levy sales tax or value added tax (VAT) on the sale of goods. This exclusive division of fiscal powers has led to a multiplicity of indirect taxes in the country. In addition, central sales tax (CST) is levied on inter-State sale of goods by the Central Government, but collected and retained by the exporting States. Further, many States levy an entry tax on the entry of goods in local areas.
This multiplicity of taxes at the State and Central levels has resulted in a complex indirect tax structure in the country that is ridden with hidden costs for the trade and industry. Firstly, there is no uniformity of tax rates and structure across States. Secondly, there is cascading of taxes due to ‘tax on tax’. No credit of excise duty and service tax paid at the stage of manufacture is available to the traders while paying the State level sales tax or VAT, and vice-versa. Further, no credit of State taxes paid in one State can be availed in other States. Hence, the prices of goods and services get artificially inflated to the extent of this ‘tax on tax’.
The introduction of GST would mark a clear departure from the scheme of distribution of fiscal powers envisaged in the Constitution. The proposed dual GST envisages taxation of the same taxable event, i.e., supply of goods and services, simultaneously by both the Centre and the States. Therefore, both Centre and States will be empowered to levy GST across the value chain from the stage of manufacture to consumption. The credit of GST paid on inputs at every stage of value addition would be available for the discharge of GST liability on the output, thereby ensuring GST is charged only on the component of value addition at each stage. This would ensure that there is no ‘tax on tax’ in the country.
Source: Ministry of Finance
Destination-Based Consumption Tax: GST will be a destination-based tax. This implies that all SGST collected will ordinarily accrue to the State where the consumer of the goods or services sold resides.
Central Taxes to be subsumed:
i. Central Excise Duty
ii. Additional Excise Duty
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. Cesses and surcharges in so far as they relate to supply of goods and services.
State Taxes to be subsumed:
i. VAT/Sales Tax
ii. Central Sales Tax (levied by the Centre and collected by the States)
iii. Entertainment Tax
iv. Octroi and Entry Tax (all forms)
v. Purchase Tax
vi. Luxury Tax
vii. Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling
viii. State cesses and surcharges in so far as they relate to supply of goods and services.
All goods and services, except alcoholic liquor for human consumption, will be brought under the purview of GST.
Salient features of the Constitution (122nd) Amendment Bill, 2014: are as follows:-
1. GST, or Goods and Services Tax, will subsume central indirect taxes like excise duty, countervailing duty and service tax, as also state levies like value added tax, octroi and entry tax, luxury tax.
2. The final consumer will pay only the GST charged by the last dealer in the supply chain, with set-off benefits at all the previous stages.
3. Petroleum and petroleum products have been constitutionally included as ‘goods’ under GST. However, it has also been provided that petroleum and petroleum products shall not be subject to the levy of GST till notified at a future date on the recommendation of the GST Council. The present taxes levied by the States and the Centre on petroleum and petroleum products, viz. Sales Tax/VAT and CST by the States, and excise duty the Centre, will continue to be levied in the interim period.
4. Taxes on tobacco and tobacco products imposed by the Centre shall continue to be levied over and above GST.
5. In case of alcoholic liquor for human consumption, States would continue to levy the taxes presently being levied, i.e., State Excise Duty and Sales Tax/VAT.
6. It will have two components - Central GST levied by the Centre and State GST levied by the states.
7. However, only the Centre may levy and collect GST on supplies in the course of inter-state trade or commerce. The tax collected would be divided between the Centre and the states in a manner to be provided by parliament, on the recommendations of the GST Council.
8. The GST Council is to consist of the union finance minister as chairman, the union minister of state of finance and the finance minister of each state.
9. The bill proposes an additional tax not exceeding 1% on inter-state trade in goods, to be levied and collected by the Centre to compensate the states for two years, or as recommended by the GST Council, for losses resulting from implementing the GST.
GST Compensation: Due to a shift from origin based to destination based indirect tax structure, some States might face drop in revenue in the initial years. To help the States in this transition phase, the Centre has committed to compensate all their losses for a period of 5 years. Accordingly, clause 19 has been inserted in the Constitution (122nd) Amendment Bill, 2014 to provide for compensation to States by law, on the recommendation of the Goods and Services Tax Council, for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the goods and services tax for a period of five years.
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