As the name suggests, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be levied both on goods (manufacturing) and services. GST will convert the country into unified market, replacing most indirect taxes with one tax. It would have a dual structure – a Central component levied and collected by the Centre and a state component administered by states.
At the Central level, it will subsume Central excise duty, service tax and additional customs duties while at the state level it will include value-added tax, entertainment tax, luxury tax, lottery taxes and electricity duty. Central sales tax (CST) will be completely phased out. Entry tax or octroi would be subsumed from the start. But state taxes on petroleum products will continue for a few years after GST is introduced, as per the deal brokered between the Centre and states on Monday. State taxes on alcohol and tobacco, too, would remain.
As with VAT, the tax will be charged on each stage of value addition. At each stage, a supplier can off-set the levy through a tax credit mechanism. This means, the consumer pays GST added on by only the last dealer in the supply chain.
The rate for GST is as yet undecided, but it would be in a range that would make exports competitive. A sub-committee of the Empowered Committee of state finance ministers had proposed revenue-neutral rates (RNR) for the Central and state components at 12.77 per cent and 13.91 per cent, respectively, taking the effective GST rate to 26.88 per cent. This is much stiffer than the 14-16 per cent in most countries as well as the recommendation of a taskforce of the Thirteenth Finance Commission of 12 per cent (7 per cent for state GST and 5 per cent for central GST).