Goods and services are divided into five tax slabs for collection of tax – 0%, 5%, 12%,18% and 28%. Petroleum products, alcoholic drinks, electricity, and real estate are taxed separately by the individual state governments. 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 rates, rules and regulations are governed by the GST Council which comprises finance ministers of centre and all the states. GST simplified a slew of indirect taxes with an unified tax and is therefore expected to dramatically reshape the country’s 2.4 trillion dollar economy. Trucks’ travel time in interstate movement dropped by 20%, because of no interstate check posts.
The reform process of India’s indirect tax regime was started in 1986 by Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Finance Minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s government, with the introduction of the Modified Value Added Tax (MODVAT). Subsequently, Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, initiated early discussions on a Value Added Tax (VAT) at the state level.A single common “Goods and Services Tax (GST)” was proposed and given a go-ahead in 1999 during a meeting between the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his economic advisory panel, which included three former RBI governors IG Patel, Bimal Jalan and C Rangarajan. Vajpayee set up a committee headed by the Finance Minister of West Bengal, Asim Dasgupta to design a GST model.
The single GST replaced several taxes and levies which included: central excise duty, services tax, additional customs duty, surcharges, state-level value added tax and Octroi. Other levies which were applicable on inter-state transportation of goods have also been done away with in GST regime. GST is levied on all transactions such as sale, transfer, purchase, barter, lease, or import of goods and/or services.