Rise in GST Revenues

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    •  The Gross Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue in February was 26% higher than pre-pandemic levels, the Finance Ministry said.

    About the latest trend

    • Revenues from import of goods were 38% higher year-on-year.
    • Revenues from domestic transactions (including import of services) were 12% higher than the revenues from these sources during 2021.
    • A disparity between the collection trends among the States is a concern.
      • While on an overall basis, the collections are 18% higher than the same period last year, there is significant divergence amongst States, with increases in the range of 2% to 23% amongst the large States.
      • Among the major industrial States, Maharashtra and Karnataka recorded a 21% increase in GST revenues.
      • While the growth rate was far lower at 5% for Tamil Nadu and 8% for Gujarat.
      • Odisha clocked 23% growth in GST revenues, while Telangana and Andhra Pradesh witnessed a growth of 13% and 19%, respectively.

    Goods and Service Tax (GST)

    • Goods and Services Tax is an indirect tax used in India on the supply of goods and services.
    • It is a value-added tax levied on most goods and services sold for domestic consumption.
    • It was launched in India on 1 July 2017 as a comprehensive indirect tax for the entire country.
    • It is a comprehensive, multistage, destination-based tax comprehensive because it has subsumed almost all the indirect taxes except a few state taxes. 
    • It is paid by the consumers and is remitted to the government by the businesses selling the goods and services.
    • It is of three types i.e. 
      • CGST to be levied by the Centre, 
      • SGST to be levied by the States and 
      • IGST is a tax levied on all Inter-State supplies of goods and/or services.  
    • All these taxes are levied at rates mutually agreed upon by the Centre and the States. 
    • The GST Council headed by the Union Finance Minister is the governing and key decision-making body for GST. 

    Significance

    • Better Compliance: GST helped in achieving better tax compliance by subsuming multiple taxation and reduction in taxation burden in the last four years.
    • Automated tax ecosystem: It helped the country in transitioning to an automated indirect tax ecosystem. From electronic compliances, generation of e-invoices to tracking movement of goods through e-waybill – everything is now online
    • E-invoice & More Revenue: The E-invoicing system helped reduce fake invoicing. Use of technology with online bill generation has resulted in smoother consignment movement and much fewer disputes with officials. After the introduction of E-invoice, GST collections have risen steadily since November 2020, surpassing the Rs. 1 lakh crore mark on several occasions.
    • Logistical efficiency, production cost cut: Another major achievement of this regime is the fact that over 50% of logistics effort and time is saved since GST has ensured the removal of multiple checkpoints and permits at state border checkpoints. 
    • Lesser transaction costs: After the introduction of GST, there has been a significant reduction in transaction costs. This reduction has been a huge breakthrough in the interstate movement of products, allowing the country to boast of a single national unified market for businesses. 
    • Cooperative Federalism: The customs portals are linked with the GST portal for credit availing on imports constitution of the GST Council and ensuring Centre-State partnership in the decision-making process. It ensured cooperative federalism to be its major part.
    • Ease of doing business: India’s ease of doing business ranking has improved significantly in the last four years. Before GST was implemented, India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking was 130 in 2016. In 2020, India was ranked 63rd on the list.
    • More Freedom: Since the GST rate is the same across the country for a particular supply, traders and manufacturers in the organized sectors have gained more freedom to choose the best vendors, suppliers, and other stakeholders with better pricing, regardless of their location. 
    • Improved Competitiveness: GST has improved the competitiveness of domestic industries in the international market by removing hidden and embedded taxes. 

    Challenges

    • Constant amendments: Over the last few years, the GST law has seen many amendments. During this time, all these revisions often confused the taxpayer and as well the tax administrators which created misunderstandings and misconceptions. To date, more than 1,000 notifications/circulars/instructions/orders have been issued by the government machinery. 
    • Non-implementation of GSTR-2: GSTR which was the only control for systemic reconciliation was never implemented. To prevent any bogus claim of ITC, reconciliations are required to be controlled by the system. However, since it was never implemented now taxpayers asked to provide self-attested offline reconciliations maintained in annual return GSTR 9 or GSTR 9C. 
    • Refund delay issues: While the Government has taken many steps to smoothen the process of export refunds, automatic processing of refunds has always been an area of major concern under GST. Since there are manual approvals involved in the existing process, there are chances of a discrepancy, human error, delay in refund processing which goes against the expectations of the exporters from the system.
    • Adaption & Technical Issues: Small and medium businesses are still grappling to adapt to the tech-enabled regime. The fundamental principles on which the GST law was built viz. seamless flow of input credits and ease of compliance has been impaired by IT glitches, 
    • Complex Penalties: Many businesses are genuinely not able to monitor their vendor behaviour and feel that they should not be penalised for the tax compliance deficiencies of their vendors once they have paid the GST amounts to their vendors.
    • Low Revenue: Widespread non-compliance and non-filing of GST returns was considerable in the first three years of GST which led to low revenue collections.
    • Other Concerns: Further, the 15th Finance Commission, in its report, has also highlighted several areas of concern in the GST regime relating to:
      • multiplicity of tax rates, 
      • shortfall in GST collections vis-à-vis the forecast, 
      • high volatility in GST collections, 
      • inconsistency in filing of returns, 
      • dependence of States on the compensation from Centre

    Way Forward

    • India has served as an example to the world by successfully implementing one of the most complex tax transformation projects for the country. Although it is important that the shortcomings be swiftly resolved.
    • Pandemic has had severe impacts on GST also and led to economic contraction. Certain structural level changes to the law may help boost the business and economy.
    • Constitute the GST Appellate Tribunal as it is obvious that all taxpayers do not have the finances or means to approach the High Court for every practical difficulty faced.
    • Streamlining of anti-profiteering measures and simplification of compliance procedures also needs to be revisited to ensure that the cost efficiency and reduction in prices envisaged under GST law finally reach the common man.
    • The law is still a ‘work-in-progress’ and the process of evolution, in such a complex journey, cannot be eliminated.

    GST Council

    • It is a constitutional body under Article 279A, introduced by the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.
    • It is empowered to modify, reconcile or to procure any law or regulation based on the context of GST in India.
    • It is also considered as a federal body where both the centre and the states get due representation.
    • Functions: It makes recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to GST.
    • Composition
      • Chairperson: Union Finance Minister.
      • Members: Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.
    • Decision Making: Every decision of the GST Council shall be taken at a meeting by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present and voting, in accordance with the following principles, namely:
      • Vote of the Central Government shall have a weightage of one third of the total votes cast.
      • Votes of all the State Governments taken together shall have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast, in that meeting.

    Source: TH