Highlights of the Bill
- The Bill amends the Constitution to introduce the goods and services tax (GST).
- Parliament and state legislatures will have concurrent powers to make laws on GST. Only the centre may levy an integrated GST (IGST) on the interstate supply of goods and services, and imports.
- Alcohol for human consumption has been exempted from the purview of GST. GST will apply to five petroleum products at a later date.
- The GST Council will recommend rates of tax, period of levy of additional tax, principles of supply, special provisions to certain states etc. The GST Council will consist of the Union Finance Minister, Union Minister of State for Revenue, and state Finance Ministers.
- The Bill empowers the centre to impose an additional tax of up to 1%, on the inter-state supply of goods for two years or more. This tax will accrue to states from where the supply originates.
- Parliament may, by law, provide compensation to states for any loss of revenue from the introduction of GST, up to a five year period.
Key Issues and Analysis
- An ideal GST regime intends to create a harmonised system of taxation by subsuming all indirect taxes under one tax. It seeks to address challenges with the current indirect tax regime by broadening the tax base, eliminating cascading of taxes, increasing compliance, and reducing economic distortions caused by inter-state variations in taxes.
- The provisions of this Bill do not fully conform to an ideal GST regime. Deferring the levy of GST on five petroleum products could lead to cascading of taxes.
- The additional 1% tax levied on goods that are transported across states dilutes the objective of creating a harmonised national market for goods and services. Inter-state trade of a good would be more expensive than intra-state trade, with the burden being borne by retail consumers. Further, cascading of taxes will continue.
- The Bill permits the centre to levy and collect GST in the course of inter-state trade and commerce. Instead, some experts have recommended a modified bank model for inter-state transactions to ease tax compliance and administrative burden.