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Indirect Taxes including GST


Indirect taxes are commonly used and imposed by the government in order to generate revenue. They are essentially fees that are levied equally upon taxpayers, no matter their income, so rich or poor, everyone has to pay them. But many consider them to be regressive taxes as they can bear a heavy burden on people with lower incomes who end up paying the same amount of tax as those who make a higher income. For example, the import duty on a television from Japan will be the same amount, no matter the income of the consumer purchasing the television. And because this levy has nothing to do with a person's income, that means someone who earns $25,000 a year will have to pay the same duty on the same television as someone who earns $150,000 — clearly, a bigger burden on the former.

Indirect tax is a type of tax where the incidence and impact of taxation does not fall on the same entity. An indirect tax is collected by one entity in the supply chain (usually a producer or retailer) and paid to the government, but it is passed on to the consumer as part of the purchase price of a good or service. The consumer is ultimately paying the tax by paying more for the product. In the case of indirect tax, the burden of tax can be shifted by the taxpayer to someone else. Indirect tax has the effect to raising the price of the products on which they are imposed. Customs duty, central excise, service tax and value added tax are examples of indirect tax.

Goods and Service Tax (GST) is an indirect tax (or consumption tax) imposed in India on the supply of goods and services. It is a comprehensive multistage, destination based tax. Comprehensive because it has subsumed almost all the indirect taxes except few. Multi-Staged as it is imposed at every step in the production process, but is meant to be refunded to all parties in the various stages of production other than the final consumer. And destination based tax, as it is collected from point of consumption and not point of origin like previous taxes.

Goods and services are divided into five different tax slabs for collection of tax - 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. However, petroleum products, alcoholic drinks, and electricity are not taxed under GST and instead are taxed separately by the individual state governments, as per the previous tax regime.There is a special rate of 0.25% on rough precious and semi-precious stones and 3% on gold. In addition a cess of 22% or other rates on top of 28% GST applies on few items like aerated drinks, luxury cars and tobacco products. Pre-GST, the statutory tax rate for most goods was about 26.5%, Post-GST, most goods are expected to be in the 18% tax range.

The tax came into effect from July 1, 2017 through the implementation of One Hundred and First Amendment of the Constitution of India by the Indian government. The tax replaced existing multiple flowing taxes levied by the central and state governments.

The tax rates, rules and regulations are governed by the GST Council which consists of the finance ministers of centre and all the states. GST is meant to replace a slew of indirect taxes with a federated tax and is therefore expected to reshape the country's 2.4 trillion dollar economy, but not without criticism. Trucks' travel time in interstate movement dropped by 20%, because of no interstate check posts

Advantages of GST
GST has mainly removed the Cascading effect on the sale of goods and services. Removal of cascading effect has impacted the cost of goods. Since the GST regime eliminates the tax on tax, the cost of goods decreases. GST is also mainly technologically driven. All activities like registration, return filing, application for refund and response to notice needs to be done online on the GST Portal; this accelerates the processes.