For long, there have been various laws for indirect taxes. Service Tax, Excise Act, Customs Act, Sales Act, VAT, all, together formed the indirect tax framework of the country. But in 2017, the government introduced GST to combine all these laws in one single law, bringing a revolution to the indirect tax regime.
There are four components of the Act, namely the CGST Act, the SGST Act, the UTGST Act, and the IGST Act. All these components describe how the framework works within the different levels of Government.
But GST dates back to a long time ago. The bills were introduced in Parliament way back in 2000. There were four different bills issued, and these bills finally culminated in the GST Act in 2017. Here is how this happened.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government suggested the idea of GST in this year. It formed a committee under the chairmanship of the then finance minister of West Bengal, Mr. Asim Dasgupta. The community has the onus to examine the GST proposal and submit a report on it.
A task force lead by Vijay L. Kelkar suggested that the existing tax regime had many issues that need mitigation. The GST Act can help with that.
The then finance minister P. Chidambaram also supported the proposal. He said that the Act would significantly contribute to bringing a uniformity within the indirect tax regime in the country.
It was decided and announced that GST shall be introduced in 2010 and have applicability from April 1, 2010. The states were requested to make preparations for the upcoming Act.
Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the then finance minister, announced the skeleton for the Act. Besides that, the committee for GST put forward a paper, which included an in-depth description of the proposed GST Regime.
The Government started a mission mode project for the regime. The implementation of the Act got delayed by one year owing to this regime.
The Congress Government brought the Constitutional Amendment Bill for introducing GST. However, the opposition party strongly opposed the bill. Due to these protests, the government sent the bill to the standing committee for examination.
The standing committee started its discussions. Later, P. Chidambaram, along with the other state finance ministers decided in a meeting to resolve the issues by December 31, 2012.
During the announcement of the union budget, P. Chidambaram made an announcement that a compensation of Rs. 9000 crores will be provided to the states for compensating the losses they would incur as a result of GST. However, the Gujrat government protested against the Act since it estimated that it would incur a loss of Rs.14000 crore.
The Amendment Bill that was introduced by the Congress Government lapsed. Also, the Modi Government replaced the existing Congress Government. The Modi Government, however, didn’t let the regime lose its purpose and, in no time, introduced another Amendment Bill.
The Ministry of Finance made the draft of the Act public and invited their suggestions and views. The Congress Party made some protests, but they soon agreed to the bill with four major amendments to it.
The GST bill finally took the form of the GST Act with the assent of the President. It was made applicable from April 1, 2017.
But the story does not end here. The changes continue as yet, and multiple amendments have been made to the Act to make it better.
Some of the steps taken for making the Act more convenient for the taxpayers are:
With a step forward towards Digital India, the Government introduced the GST Portal, India’s Online Tax Office. This portal has brought the tax office to the homes of the taxpayers and has been exceptionally beneficial for them. They get a quick and easy resolution for their queries through the portal. They can have their registration online, download their certificate online, make payments, generate challans, do a lot of things through the portal. This essentially saves them time and energy. They need not get troubled and frustrated at the offices waiting or making rounds. Everything is available at the click of their hand. This essentially makes the compliances easier as well.
One more step towards Digital India is the introduction and use of online payments. The trend had, for long, been towards the use of plastic money. It further advanced with online payments. And GST dis did not fail to incorporate it into its regime. It offers the taxpayers a quick and easy way to make their GST payments through the GST portal. They can even use the other digital means, such as the UPI ID. Moreover, the Government has also announced an incentive for digital payments. The incentive is in the form of cashback up to 20% of the payment. However, the cashback is with a cap of Rs. 100. Still, this is a pretty good monetary gain for the taxpayers.
The Government has also not failed to recognize the importance of digital presence. It has unfailingly created an online presence through a digital platform for GST in the form of a GST website. All the information that the taxpayers and the public at large needs about GST can be found here. All the latest updates and announcements are uploaded regularly on the website. Also, every amendment made to the Act is available on this website. The people can even contact the officers for their queries and problems through the contact page available over the website. The website thus serves as a great informational platform for the people.
GST has been one great reform in the indirect tax regime. It has greatly changed the way the tax laws are governed in the country. And the change has been all for good and the better. Every component of the GST Act, be it CGST Act, SGST Act, UTGST Act, or IGST Act, has been greatly described and has been great. Although there are problems associated with the Act, everything new takes time to improve. And the way GST has been evolving, the Act is only going to get better for all. So, let us support the regime and appreciate the made by the Government for its people.