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
1.2 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
1.3 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 subsumation 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.
1.4 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.
1.5 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.
1.6 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.
1.7 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.
1.8 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.
1.9 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.
1.10 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.
1.11 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 time bound manner 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 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 ruling.
1.12 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.
1.13 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.
1.14 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.
1.15 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.
Source: First Discussion Paper On Goods and Services Tax In India, Issued By: The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, New Delhi, Dated: November 10, 2009