Goods and Services Tax in India: Growth Story

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The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India on July 1, 2017, marked a pivotal moment in the nation’s economic revolution. GST, replacing a multitude of central and state taxes taxes like excise duty, service tax, VAT, and GST, aimed to streamline the tax system for enhanced economic growth. This reform has significantly improved efficiency, transparency, and simplicity in business operations, playing a crucial role in fostering the vibrancy of the Indian economy.

1. Implemented in 2017, GST streamlined India’s taxation for economic growth and operational simplicity.

2. GST eliminated fragmentation, reducing compliance burdens and supporting a business-friendly environment.

3. Monthly GST collection increased from Rs. 0.8-1.2 lakh crore to Rs. 1.66 lakh crore in 2023-24, with a significant rise in taxpayer numbers.

4. ‘Digital India’ contributed to GST efficiency through features like auto-population of purchase data and online processes

Background of Goods and Services Tax in India

The idea of GST started in 2006, with collaboration between the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers and the central government. They developed a plan for implementation, releasing the first discussion paper in November 2009. The tax system was fragmented, services were not appropriately taxed, and cascading effects led to economic distortions.

Transformation of Tax Structure in India

In the pre-GST era, India’s indirect tax structure was fragmented, with each state enforcing its own VAT laws. The cascading effect of taxes at different supply chain stages burdened consumers. GST addressed this by introducing a seamless credit system and a uniform tax structure, reducing compliance burdens and fostering a more business-friendly environment. The elimination of border checkposts aligned with the vision of “One Nation, One Tax.”

Relevance of GST & Future

Introducing GST is vital for our evolving economy, replacing complex tax structures of both the Centre and States. With increasing global trade, a clear nationwide tax system is crucial for Indian industries to compete globally and locally. GST aims to provide transparency and efficiency in taxation.

Surge in GST Collection and Digital Advancements

Under GST, 47 lakh taxpayers transitioned from previous tax frameworks, resulting in 1.4 crore registered taxpayers. Monthly GST collections have surged to Rs. 1.66 lakh crore in fiscal year 2023-24, showcasing substantial growth. Technological advancements, including the GST portal’s features, have played a vital role in streamlining processes, contributing to the efficiency of the GST system in the era of ‘Digital India.’

Latest GST Rules Impacting Online Gaming

Under the latest GST rules, online gaming now faces a uniform 28% GST levy on the full face value, regardless of whether the activities involve skill or chance. This change contrasts with the previous 18% GST on the gross gaming revenue, representing fees charged by online gaming platforms. The new rules mandate GST payment by online gaming platforms on the amounts paid or deposited by players, excluding the sum used for games or bets from prior winnings.

Challenges and Recommendations

The establishment of GST tribunals requires attention, with complexities surrounding their formation. Recommendations were proposed during the 52nd GST Council meeting in October 2023, aiming to address the appointment of lawyers as judicial members. The gaming sector faced debates on GST categorization, leading to a 28% GST on online games. However, relief was provided by taxing only the initial deposit amount.

Notices and Amendments

Taxpayers have received multiple GST notices, addressing alleged shortfalls in payment, input tax credit reversal, or recovery of erroneous refunds. In October 2023, the GST Council made specific recommendations, including an amnesty scheme for appeals, clarifications on guarantees, and a prospective amendment making the Input Service Distributor (ISD) mechanism mandatory.

Anticipations and Future Measures in the Tax Structure

The tax structure in India comprises both direct and indirect taxes imposed by the central, state, and local authorities, thereby establishing a dual-tier structure. Direct taxes are imposed on the income of individuals and corporate entities, while indirect taxes are applied to the sale and provision of goods and services.  GST is a major tax reform that aims to simplify the indirect tax structure regime. 

There is anticipation of measures for more flexible tax-free enclaves within Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Clarity is expected on the taxability of virtual digital assets (VDA) and discussions on GST applicability on Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOPs). An amnesty scheme under Customs law is anticipated, and the digitalisation of Customs litigation processes may be part of future Budget discussions.

Conclusion and Future Outlook

While substantial alterations in the GST law are not expected, the government gears up for an “Interim Budget Session” before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Changes are likely to be dispersed across interim and final budgets, with a focus on promoting manufacturing in India, particularly in the Customs sector. The GST story continues to evolve, with achievements and challenges shaping the nation’s economic landscape.


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