NEW DELHI: India’s biggest tax reform, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), completes its half-a-decade journey on June 30, with many hits and some misses, and also brought about a paradigm shift in use of technology to bring about tax compliance and making over Rs 1 lakh crore revenue collection every month ‘a new normal’.
A nationwide GST, which subsumed 17 local levies like excise duty, service tax and VAT and 13 cesses, was rolled out at the stroke of midnight on July 1, 2017. Under GST, a four-rate structure that exempts or imposes a low rate of tax of 5 per cent on essential items and top rate of 28 per cent on cars is levied. The other slabs of tax are 12 and 18 per cent. In the pre-GST era, the total of VAT, excise, CST and their cascading effect led to 31 per cent as tax payable, on an average, for a consumer.
Besides, there is a special 3 per cent rate for gold, jewellery and precious stones and 1.5 per cent on cut and polished diamonds. A cess is also levied on the highest tax slab of 28 per cent on luxury, sin and demerit goods. The collection from the cess goes to a separate corpus Compensation fund which is used to make up for revenue loss suffered by the state due to GST roll-out.
GST also represents an unprecedented exercise in fiscal federalism as the Centre and states come together in the GST Council to thrash out modalities for smooth functioning of the relatively new tax regime. The Council has met 47 times so far and have taken measures which made Rs 1 lakh crore GST collection per month ‘a new normal’ and on course to take the figure to Rs 1.4 lakh crore every month. As the government releases the June GST collection numbers on July 1, it is widely expected that the collections will follow the past four months’ trend and be around Rs 1.4 lakh crore.
The collections had touched a record Rs 1.68 lakh crore in April 2022, it had for the first time crossed Rs 1 lakh crore mark in collections in April, 2018.
On the 5th anniversary of GST, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) tweeted “GST subsumed multiple levies and cesses, reduced compliance burden, removed regional imbalances and inter-state barriers, and significantly increased the transparency and overall Revenue collection”.
Over the past years the Government has been pro-actively issuing circulars and clarifications to clear doubts regarding taxation under GST and ensure ease of doing business. More recently, the GST Council, in its 47th meeting in Chandigarh, has decided to ease compliance for small taxpayers who supply through the e-commerce platform.