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Goods and Services Tax, History, Objectives, Features, Subsumed Taxes

Goods and Services Tax

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is an indirect tax system introduced in India on July 1, 2017, which subsumed multiple indirect taxes levied by the central and state governments, such as VAT, excise duty, and service tax. GST is a value-added tax that is levied on the supply of goods and services, from the manufacturer to the consumer and is designed to create a common national market by eliminating barriers to interstate trade.

Goods and Services Tax History

  • Initiation (2000): Proposed by Kelkar Task Force on Indirect Taxes to replace complex tax structure.
  • Roadmap (2009): Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers released First Discussion Paper.
  • Challenges (2011): Constitution Amendment Bill faced issues, including compensation to States.
  • Introduction (2014): Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014, introduced, aimed at amending the Constitution for GST implementation.
  • Legislative Journey (2015-2016): Lok Sabha passed the Bill in May 2015; Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha passed it in August 2016. President’s assent received on 8th September 2016, enacted as 101st Constitution Amendment Act.
  • GST Council (2016): Established with Union Finance Minister and representatives from all States and Union Territories. Notified on 15th September 2016, with the GST Council Secretariat.
  • Implementation (July 1, 2017): GST laws implemented, replacing complex Central and State taxes.
  • Tax Slabs: Goods and services categorized into tax slabs – 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%.
  • Exemptions: Some essential commodities exempted; Gold and job work for diamonds attract lower tax rates.
  • Compensation Cess: Levied on demerit goods and certain luxury items.
  • Technological Infrastructure: Extensive efforts made to build GSTN (GST Network), a not-for-profit company, providing IT backbone for taxpayer registration, return filing, and tax payments.
  • Amendments and Refinements: Post-implementation, GST underwent amendments and refinements based on feedback from businesses and economic changes.

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Goods and Services Tax Objectives 

The main objective of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India is to create a unified and simplified tax system, by replacing multiple indirect taxes levied by the central and state governments with a single, comprehensive tax. The introduction of GST aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Simplify the Tax Structure: GST aims to simplify the complex indirect tax structure by replacing multiple taxes with a single tax, reducing compliance costs, and making tax administration more efficient.
  • Create a Common Market: GST creates a common national market by eliminating barriers to inter-state trade, enabling a seamless flow of goods and services across state borders.
  • Promote Economic Growth: GST is expected to reduce the tax burden on businesses, encourage entrepreneurship, and increase investment in the country, thereby promoting economic growth.
  • Improve Tax Compliance: GST is expected to reduce tax evasion by creating a comprehensive and transparent tax system and promoting greater tax compliance among businesses and individuals.
  • Ensure Social Justice: GST provides for a uniform tax rate across the country, ensuring social justice and reducing the tax burden on the common man.

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GST Features 

Some of the key features of GST include:

Feature Description
Destination-based consumption tax GST is levied at the point of consumption of goods and services, rather than at the point of origin or production.
Dual GST model GST is levied by both the central and state governments, under a dual GST model.
Multiple tax rates GST is levied at four tax rates: 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28% when it was introduced. However, these slabs keep changing with changing needs of the economy. 
Input tax credit Businesses can claim input tax credits for taxes paid on purchases of goods and services, which can be set off against their GST liability.
Online tax filing and payment GST returns can be filed online, and taxes can be paid through the GST portal.
GST Council The GST Council is a constitutional body responsible for making recommendations on GST-related issues and making key decisions on GST rates and other matters.
Exemptions and thresholds Small businesses with a turnover of up to Rs. 20 lahks are exempt from GST, while businesses with a turnover of up to Rs. 1.5 crore can opt for a simplified tax regime.
Anti-profiteering measures The government has put in place anti-profiteering measures to ensure that businesses pass on the benefits of reduced tax rates and input tax credits to consumers.
GSTN The GST Network (GSTN) is a non-profit, public-private partnership responsible for providing IT infrastructure and services for the implementation of GST.
GST compliance rating Businesses are given a GST compliance rating based on their timely filing of returns and payment of taxes, which can impact their ability to do business with other GST-registered entities.

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Taxes Subsumed Under GST

GST replaced the following taxes and brought them under a unified tax regime. There is a list of Taxes Subsumed Under GST.

  • Central Excise Duty
  • Service Tax
  • Additional Excise Duty
  • Additional Customs Duty (Countervailing Duty)
  • Special Additional Duty of Customs
  • Value Added Tax (VAT)
  • Central Sales Tax
  • Entry Tax
  • Entertainment Tax (other than the tax levied by local bodies)
  • Luxury Tax
  • Taxes on Lottery, Betting, and Gambling

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GST Council Structure

The GST Council is a constitutional body in India responsible for overseeing the implementation and administration of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country. The Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and consists of state Finance Ministers as members.

GST Council Functions

The functions of the GST Council are as follows:

  • Recommend Tax Rates: The Council recommends tax rates for goods and services, taking into account revenue implications and the interests of various stakeholders.
  • Decide on Exemptions and Thresholds: The Council decides on exemptions, thresholds, and other matters related to GST.
  • Resolve Disputes: The Council resolves disputes between the central and state governments or between different states, related to GST implementation or revenue sharing.
  • Review Tax Revenue: The Council reviews the tax revenue position and suggests measures to improve revenue collection.
  • Monitor Implementation: The Council monitors the implementation of GST and suggests measures to improve its functioning.
  • Recommend Changes: The Council recommends changes to the GST Act, rules, and procedures as required.

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Goods and Services Tax UPSC 

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a consumption-based value-added tax applicable to the majority of goods and services. While consumers bear the cost of GST, it is collected and forwarded to the government by the businesses that sell these goods and services. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is an important topic for the UPSC Syllabus as it is a significant tax reform implemented in India.

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Goods and Services Tax FAQs

What is goods & Service Tax in India?

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is an indirect tax system implemented in India in 2017, which replaced multiple taxes levied by the central and state governments.

What are the 3 types of GST?

The three types of GST in India are CGST, SGST, and IGST.

How much is GST tax on services in India?

The GST tax on services in India is 18%. There are four tax slabs for GST - 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%. However, these are subjected to periodic changes.

What product is 18% GST?

Products such as aerated drinks, cars, and cigarettes attract an 18% GST rate.

What is the meaning of Goods and Services Tax?

GST is a single tax on the supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer.

What is GST tax in India?

GST is a unified tax system that replaced multiple indirect taxes levied by both the Central and State Governments.

Who introduced GST?

Arun Jaitley introduced the GST Bill in the Lok Sabha, in February 2015.

About the Author

I, Sakshi Gupta, am a content writer to empower students aiming for UPSC, PSC, and other competitive exams. My objective is to provide clear, concise, and informative content that caters to your exam preparation needs. I strive to make my content not only informative but also engaging, keeping you motivated throughout your journey!


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