Disruption has followed key economic reforms by Narendra Modi-led NDA government - it was demonetisation last year, it is Goods and Services Tax (GST) now, baffling taxpayers with the scope of changes it brings.
Launched by Prime Minister Modi on July 1, the new tax regime is meant to unify an array of indirect taxes under one tax structure, effectively unifying the nation as a single market and do away with the cascading effects of taxes.
How will GST affect the prices? Will paying taxes become easier for the taxpayers? What benefits does GST offer? A whole range of questions have arisen with the advent of GST that confuses taxpayers even now. We take a look at some crucial changes that have come to pass with the new regime in place.
No more hidden taxes
Taxpayers are anxious about the apparent increase in tax rates after GST rollout. Consumers are apprehensive this would result in increase in prices, despite the government insisting quite the opposite. The consumers do not have to fear as it is the hidden taxes unified under the new tax regime and mentioned in the invoice handed to the buyer.
Earlier consumers used to pay taxes without even knowing. For example, invoices used to quote VAT charged by the state and sometimes service tax payable to the centre, but did not provide a breakdown of central taxes charged on the commodity. With GST, people can be assured that the commodities have been taxed at a single tax bracket, split between the centre and the state.
Check on price rise
Under the previous tax regime, producers had to pay taxes at every stage which was added to the final selling price. This was called cascading effect of taxes. In simpler terms, it means that a commodity was taxed at every stop before it reached the consumer. This extra tax levied on a commodity eventually added to inflation and the price rise was borne by the customer.
Now, GST replaces cascading effect of taxes with input tax credit. Under the new tax regime, the tax paid for inputs is taken off taxes to be paid for the final product, or output. This way more people pay taxes instead of the consumer bearing the burden of taxes levied at every step of manufacturing.
Traders go digital
Traders will have to change the way they used to do business before the advent of GST. With the tax return filing process going digital, traders will have to upgrade to electronic means to keep up. Those who used to generate invoices digitally will have to change their IT systems to accommodate changes brought about by GST.
Taxation under the new regime will be applicable on supply of goods and services. In addition to this, several procedural changes have been made to ensure high compliance like reversal of tax credit in case of failure to pay consideration for goods, self-invoicing in case of purchases made from unregistered supplier, etc. Such amendments have made it necessary for businesses to incorporate significant changes in their business processes.
In GST, it will be important to ensure that an invoice for input services is received at the place where credit of such services is eligible. Therefore, businesses need to analyse procurement of services and amend their contracts with service providers as needed. Similarly, contractual terms with customers will have to be reassessed and revised, if needed.
Traders will have to train their employees as well as stakeholders, vendors and any other party involved in your business to sensitise them about the compliance requirements imposed by GST.
With GST being a destination-based tax, border check-posts at state limits have become obsolete and were done away with. The first thing it did was do away with the long line of trucks stranded at the state borders waiting to be cleared by these check-posts.
With no toll booths to cross, goods carriers are transporting their cargo swiftly between states. Cutting the delay in delivery of goods has helped save crores of rupees in lost time. The process will be further streamlined with the release of E-way Bill in a few months time. With the provisions already drafted, it will be rolled out once the E-way software is developed.
Price change of essential commodities
No change was observed in the prices of essential commodities as they were kept in the zero percent tax bracket under GST. Luxury cars made in India saw a decline in their prices, though, as they were categorised in the lower tax bracket under GST.
Motorcycles with engines bigger than 350cc were taxed at a higher rate than before under GST. Gold also saw a marginal increase in tax rates it would attract, as did telecom services. The already dearer hybrid cars would also attract more taxes under GST.
A buyer in real estate sector who paid 4.5 percent Service Tax and around 4 percent of VAT earlier, will now have to pay 12 percent GST, hiking the taxes by almost 3.5 percent which in the context of today's realty market conditions is a very significant hike, stated Sam Chopra, President of NAR India. With Stamp Duty being an additional 5-7% the taxes on realty may have reached an astounding figure of 17-19%, he further added.
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