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.
2.1 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.
2.2 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’.
2.3 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.
2.4 GST will simplify and harmonise the indirect tax regime in the country. It is expected to reduce cost of production and inflation in the economy, thereby making the Indian trade and industry more competitive, domestically as well as internationally. It is also expected that introduction of GST will foster a common or seamless Indian market and contribute significantly to the growth of the economy.
2.5 Further, GST will broaden the tax base, and result in better tax compliance due to a robust IT infrastructure. Due to the seamless transfer of input tax credit from one stage to another in the chain of value addition, there is an in-built mechanism in the design of GST that would incentivize tax compliance by traders.
3.1 Dual GST: Both Centre and States will simultaneously levy GST across the value chain. Tax will be levied on every supply of goods and services. Centre would levy and collect Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST), and States would levy and collect the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) on all transactions within a State. The input tax credit of CGST would be available for discharging the CGST liability on the output at each stage. Similarly, the credit of SGST paid on inputs would be allowed for paying the SGST on output. No cross utilization of credit would be permitted.
3.2 Inter-State Transactions and the IGST Mechanism: The Centre would levy and collect the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on all inter-State supply of goods and services. The IGST mechanism has been designed to ensure seamless flow of input tax credit from one State to another. The inter-State seller would pay IGST on the sale of his goods to the Central Government after adjusting credit of IGST, CGST and SGST on his purchases (in that order). 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 (both CGST and SGST) in his own State. The Centre will transfer to the importing State the credit of IGST used in payment of SGST.
3.3 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.
3.4 Central Taxes to be subsumed:
3.5 State Taxes to be subsumed:
3.6 All goods and services, except alcoholic liquor for human consumption, will be brought under the purview of GST.
3.7 GST Council: In the GST regime, a Goods and Services Tax Council is being created under the Constitution. The GST Council will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States. This Council would function under the Chairmanship of the Union Finance Minister and will have Minister in charge of Finance/Taxation or Minister nominated by each of the States & UTs with Legislatures, as members. The Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on important issues like tax rates, exemption list, threshold limits, etc. The recommendations made by this Council will act as benchmark or guidance to Union as well as State Governments. One-half of the total number of Members of the Council will constitute the quorum of GST council. Every decision of the Council shall be taken by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present and voting in accordance with the following principles:-
This is to protect the interests of each State and the Centre when the Council takes a decision and is in the spirit of co-operative federalism.
3.8 Floor rates of GST with band: GST rates will be uniform across the country. However, to give fiscal autonomy to the States and the Centre, there will a provision of a tax band over and above the rate of the floor rates of CGST, SGST and IGST. Initially, the rates of CGST, SGST and IGST are expected to be closely aligned to the Revenue Neutral Rates (RNR) of the Centre and the States.
3.9 Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN): A not-for-profit, Non-Government Company called Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), jointly set up by the Central and State Governments will provide shared IT infrastructure and services to the Central and State Governments, tax payers and other stakeholders.
3.10 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.