The GST Agenda for the Second year

GST was a revolutionary reform initiated by BJP government in the Indian economy. Since GST has instilled a lot of hope among the Indians due to the positive occurrences after its launch, there are many agendas that it has lined up for the coming year.
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The establishment of the Goods and Services Tax in a democracy like India has without a doubt been one of the most groundbreaking initiatives made by the Indian Government. In the history of India, a uniform, indirect tax reform that functions under the federal structure has been instituted for the very first time. Even though it had minor compliance issues in the beginning, GST in today’s date has become highly popular amongst the masses.

Even though the list of issues (pertaining to GST) remaining to be addressed is still quite exhaustive, the major problems resolved under GST in the first year itself has instilled immense confidence and hope in Indian citizens. Following are some of the occurrences that GST brought about with its uniform tax structure:

  • Inflation rate did not take a hike: Where GST was once feared to be one of the contributing factors towards a rise in inflation, it turned out that factors such as high fuel and food prices contributed to the hike. On the other hand, the multi slab structure of the tax regime is what caused the inflation rate to remain stable. The slab structure essentially ensured that the applied levy remained in close proximity to the existing rate, thereby stabilizing the tax incidence. Another contributing constituent was the anti-profiteering law. The body governing anti-profiteering laws, in fact, was instituted after the rollout of GST; however the very idea of its inception prevented multiple entities and companies from abusing the transition.
  • Emergence of a single federal market: A flawless federal market soon emerged after the rollout of GST as long queues of goods vehicles (and trucks) started disappearing and checkpoints started getting dismantled. The existing roadblocks had earlier caused the movement of goods to restrict itself which ultimately led to long hours of delay and skyrocketing transaction costs. This, in turn, placed immense pressure on the logistics sector as the end consumer ultimately was required to pay the increased cost.
  • Emergence of the era ‘one nation, one tax’: A customer residing in South India is currently paying the same amount of money for an item as a customer residing in the northern part of India. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has also led businesses to streamline their operations and distribution systems - supply, production, storage, and so on. These elements were earlier formulated keeping in consideration the state taxes. GST has made the entire system smooth and absolutely flawless.

The Road Ahead

The way things materialise in terms of compliance under GST is yet to undergo complete evolution. The Indian Government had initially (during the rollout of GST) held back on implementing the mechanisms pertaining to filing of GST returns, invoice matching, and so on. These mechanisms had been mandated by the GST regulations at the time of GST rollout. The filing of returns and matching of invoices must be conducted in a systematic manner that is in alignment with the way businesses are conducted.

Tax Base Expansion

Hindering the flawless flow of input tax credit, there still remain certain items and products that are outside the purview of GST. The key products that are still outside the GST ambit are alcohol, petroleum products, real estate, and electricity. Concerning fuel products, bringing in natural gas and aviation fuel under the GST ambit might still be a reasonable step. However, with diesel, petrol, and kerosene, this step might not be entirely feasible as most states are still opposing the move. Furthermore, a constitutional amendment will be required to bring real estate under the purview of GST; hence, this sector remains inaccessible as well.

Reduced Tax Rate

There has been a substantial reduction in the tax rates of certain goods and products. Number of goods falling in the 28% bracket has significantly gone down and the number of goods in the 18% bracket have increased. This proves that the new tax regime holds the scope of reducing the peak rates on most of the products sold in the Indian economy. Certain items such as air conditioners, cement, and so on should also undergo a tax reduction from 28% to 18%.

The idea of One Nation One Tax can be accomplished on a large-scale only when further steps are taken to enhance the existing conditions.

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