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Know Your GST: Impact on Consumers, Traders and the Government

Let us gauge the GST’s effect on the various aspects of trade, consumer prices and government revenue.

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With the biggest tax reform set to receive a red carpet welcome in Parliament's Central Hall when the clock strikes midnight on 30 June, the Goods and Services Tax will irreversibly impact consumers, traders, businesses as well as revenue collection machines of the states and the Centre.

Though the real impact of the government's big-bang reform can be assessed only after a full year of its implementation, let us gauge its effect on the various aspects of trade, consumer prices and government revenue.

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In many cases, it may weigh heavily on your pockets while in others it may soothe the traders' frayed nerves with input tax credit. In terms of GST's effect on the government's revenue kitty, it seems to be on the wait and watch mode.

- Services, including banking and telecom, will get more expensive, as will flats, ready-made garments, monthly mobile bills and tuition fees.

- From 1 July, when you visit an air-conditioned restaurant, be ready to shell out 18 percent as taxes. In case you prefer a non-air-conditioned food joint, then you will save six percent as such restaurants will attract 12 percent GST.

- Mobile bills, tuition fees and salon visits will also get costlier by three percent, as GST at the rate of 18 percent will be applicable on all services from 1 July as compared to the current service tax rate of 15 percent.

- Apparels above Rs 1,000 will attract 12 percent tax as compared to the current six percent state VAT. It may be noted that apparels below 1,000 will attract GST at the rate of five percent.

- In GST regime, buying a flat or shop, will attract GST of 12 percent as compared to current six per cent approximately.

"Though the developers are expected to pass on the benefits of input-credit available to them, with the government also issuing an advisory in this regard, practically how it will work is doubtful," GST expert Pritam Mahure told IANS.

So What Gets Cheaper Under GST?

- With 81 percent of items falling under below 18 percent tax rate, certain goods that will become cheaper are salad dressings, mayonnaise, weighing machinery, static converters (UPS), electric transformers, winding wires, transformers industrial electronics and two-way radio (walkie talkie) used by defence, police and paramilitary forces, which will attract 18 percent tax rate.

- Postage or revenue stamps will also become cheaper as GST on these has been reduced to five percent.

- Tax rate on cutlery, ketchup, sauces and pickle under GST will likely become cheaper as they will be taxed at 12 percent.

- Salt, children's picture, drawing or colouring books and cereal grains have been exempted under GST. Playing cards, chess board, carrom board and other board games have been reduced to 12 percent GST rate. Rough precious and semi-precious stones have been kept at a special rate of 0.25 percent under GST.

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How the Traders Will Be Affected?

- Traders below Rs 20 lakh annual turnover are exempt under GST as compared to the current threshold of Rs 10 lakh in indirect taxes.

- Traders, manufacturers and restaurants with up to Rs 75 lakh turnover can go for the Composition Scheme and pay 1, 2 and 5 percent tax respectively. Such businesses though will not get input tax credit, but will have to file only one quarterly return.

- Rest of the traders will have to file three returns every month, out of which two will be auto-populated.

The input tax credit under Cenvat credit will be carried forward into the new regime.

Integrated GST (IGST) and GST Compensation Cess would be levied on cargo arriving on 1 July. Cargo arrived up to 30 June would not attract IGST and compensation cess even though the clearance may happen after 1 July.

However, additional duty of customs would continue to be levied for imports of petroleum and tobacco products.

It is mandatory for all importers/exporters to declare GST Registration Number (GSTIN) along with Import Export Code (IEC) in the bills of entry, shipping bills and courier forms. Provisional IDs issued by Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) also have to be declared during the transition period. Input tax credit of IGST would be available based on GSTIN declared in the bill of entry.

Exports are zero-rated under GST. The exporter will be entitled to refund of IGST paid on exports or refund of accumulated tax credit on inputs used towards exports. Refund of IGST for exports would be based on GSTIN declared in the shipping bill.

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So How Much Money Will the Govt Raise Through GST?

The revenue growth in the remaining nine months of the fiscal are expected to fall to eight percent as compared to 22 percent from indirect taxes in 2016-17. However, no prediction has been made by the government for the full year of indirect tax collection growth for the next fiscal.

Indirect tax collections (central excise, service tax and customs) in 2016-17 stood at Rs 8.63 lakh crore.

The government is yet to gauge the impact on revenue collection under GST as it had said that they are predicting a neutral growth as they do not know whether the tax growth will go up or down.

"In the first year (2017-18), because of implementation issues, there might be a little lag in income. We have kept a target of 8-9-10 per cent growth target (in indirect tax collections) this year as compared to 22 per cent indirect tax growth that we saw in 2016-17. We have kept it as neutral this year, as we don't know whether it will go up or down," Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia had said earlier.

Revenue in first year is uncertain, I am not sure, so can’t project it. It will go up overall, but Central government’s revenue will be same or not we will have to see. Because we are surrendering the cesses for the GST compensation

Cesses imposed on taxpayers so far went to the Centre without any share to the states.

The Centre will compensate the states for any revenue losses in the GST regime for the first five years, with 14 percent growth rate in taxes with a base year of 2014-15.

(The article has been published in an arrangement with IANS)

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