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Simplifying India’s Taxes: All About GST

Introduction to GST: Simplifying India’s Tax System

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a revolutionary tax reform in India that was introduced on 1st July 2017.This tax is comprehensive and applies to the supply of goods and services throughout the country.

  • Objectives of GST: The primary objectives of GST were to streamline the complex tax system, eliminate the cascading effect of taxes (double taxation), widen the tax base, boost compliance, and reduce the overall tax burden on consumers and businesses.
  • Replacing Multiple Indirect Taxes:GST replaced a plethora of indirect taxes, including Value Added Tax (VAT), Central Sales Tax (CST), Central Excise Duty, Service Tax, and more. This consolidation simplified the tax structure, making it more efficient and transparent.
  • GST Structure: GST is a multi-stage, destination-based tax system. It is levied on every value addition that occurs at each stage of the supply chain, from raw material to the final consumer. This ensures that taxes are paid only on the value addition, avoiding double taxation.
  • GST Tax Rates: The GST tax rates are categorized into four slabs: 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%. The rate applicable to a particular good or service depends on its nature and classification.
  • Exemptions and Composition Scheme: Certain essential items like food grains, milk, and eggs are exempt from GST to ensure affordability for consumers. Additionally, small businesses with an annual turnover of less than Rs. 40 lakhs have the option to opt for a composition scheme, which allows them to pay a lower tax rate of 1%, 5%, or 6% without the need for detailed returns.
  • Administration of GST: The administration of GST is carried out jointly by the central and state governments through a dual structure. The GST Council, a constitutional body, is responsible for setting tax rates, formulating rules, and establishing GST policies. On the other hand, the GST Network, a non-profit organization, provides the IT infrastructure and services required for the implementation of GST.

By embracing GST, India has taken a significant stride towards a unified and simplified tax system, fostering economic growth and ease of doing business in the country.

Types of GST in India

There are four types of GST in India, each catering to specific types of transactions:

  • CGST (Central Goods and Services Tax): This tax is levied by the central government on intra-state transactions of goods and services. It works in conjunction with SGST or UGST, and the revenue collected is evenly distributed between the central and state governments.
  • SGST (State Goods and Services Tax): The state government imposes SGST on intra-state transactions of goods and services. The revenue generated goes directly to the state where the transaction occurs, replacing previous taxes like purchase tax, luxury tax, VAT, and Octroi.
  • IGST (Integrated Goods and Services Tax): For inter-state transactions of goods and services, as well as imports and exports, the central government levies IGST. The proceeds generated from IGST are distributed between the state and central governments.
  • UTGST (Union Territory Goods and Services Tax): Union territories like Chandigarh, Puducherry, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands apply UTGST on intra-state transactions. It takes the place of SGST for these territories.

GST has streamlined the tax structure, making it more efficient and uniform across the country.

How GST Works in India: A Comprehensive Guide

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a consumption-based, comprehensive indirect tax that revolutionized India’s tax system when implemented in 2017. It aims to simplify taxation, reduce cascading effects, and create a unified tax structure for goods and services.

Key Aspects of GST Understanding how GST works involves considering its key features:

  • Multi-stage Taxation: GST is levied at every stage of the supply chain, from manufacturing to retail. Each stage of the transaction attracts tax, ensuring comprehensive coverage.
  • Destination-based Taxation: The tax is charged based on the location of the final consumer, not the place of production. This promotes fair taxation and distribution of revenue.
  • Dual Structure of GST: For intra-state transactions, both central GST (CGST) and state GST (SGST) are levied and collected. For inter-state transactions, an integrated GST (IGST) is levied by the central government and distributed to the states.
  • Credit Mechanism: GST follows a credit mechanism, where taxes paid on inputs can be offset against taxes payable on outputs. This eliminates double taxation and reduces the burden on consumers.
  • Administered by the GST Council: The GST Council, consisting of representatives from the central and state governments, plays a pivotal role in making decisions on rates, rules, and exemptions.

Illustrating How GST Works To illustrate the functioning of GST, let’s take an example of a biscuit supply chain involving different states:

The manufacturer in Maharashtra sells biscuits to a wholesaler in Gujarat, who then supplies them to a retailer in Karnataka, and finally, the retailer sells them to a consumer in Karnataka.

At each stage, GST is applied as follows:

  • Stage 1 (Manufacturer to Wholesaler – Inter-state): IGST at 18% on the transaction value of Rs. 100 results in a tax of Rs. 18.
  • Stage 2 (Wholesaler to Retailer – Inter-state): IGST at 18% on the transaction value of Rs. 200 results in a tax of Rs. 36.
  • Stage 3 (Retailer to Consumer – Intra-state): CGST and SGST at 9% each on the transaction value of Rs. 200 results in taxes of Rs. 18 each, totaling Rs. 36.

By allowing input tax credits at each stage, the total tax burden on the final consumer is Rs. 36, ensuring a smooth and transparent taxation system.

GST Rates for Different Goods and Services in India

GST (Goods and Services Tax) is a comprehensive tax on the supply of goods and services in India, which has replaced multiple indirect taxes to simplify the tax structure. The GST rates for various goods and services are decided by the GST Council, consisting of representatives from both the central and state governments. Here’s an overview of the GST rates for different goods and services:

GST Classification

GST is divided into four types based on the nature of the transactions:

  • CGST (Central Goods and Services Tax): Applicable on intra-state supplies within a state, levied by the central government.
  • SGST (State Goods and Services Tax): Also applicable on intra-state supplies, but the revenue goes to the respective state government.
  • IGST (Integrated Goods and Services Tax): Charged on inter-state transactions, where the revenue is shared between the central and state governments.
  • UTGST (Union Territory Goods and Services Tax): Applied on supplies within Union Territories.

GST Rates

The GST rates are categorized into five slabs: 0%, 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%, based on the type of goods and services. Some goods and services are exempt from GST, and certain luxury and sin goods attract additional cess.

Here’s a table showcasing examples of GST rates for different goods and services in India:

Goods/ServicesHSN/SAC CodeGST Rate
Edible Oils1511-15185%
Cashew Nuts8015%
Footwear (< Rs.500)6401-64055%
Apparels (< Rs.1000)6101-61145%
Mobile Phones851712%
Ayurvedic Medicines3003/300412%
Mineral Water220118%
Cars870328% + Cess
Cigarettes240228% + Cess
Education ServicesSAC-9992Exempt
Health ServicesSAC-9993Exempt

How to Register for GST in India: A Step-by-Step Guide

GST, or Goods and Services Tax, is a unified indirect tax system applicable to the supply of goods and services across India. Businesses with an annual turnover exceeding Rs. 20 lakh must mandatorily comply. (the threshold may vary depending on the state and type of supplies). GST registration is essential for identifying taxpayers, collecting tax revenue, and ensuring compliance with GST laws.

The Process of GST Registration

Part-A: Generating the Temporary Reference Number (TRN)

  • Visit the official GST portal at and click on ‘Services’ under the Services tab. Afterward, click on ‘Registration’ and opt for “New Registration.”
  • Provide basic details of your business, including name, state, email address, mobile number, and PAN card.
  • You will receive OTPs on your registered email ID and mobile number or PAN-linked contact details. Enter the OTPs and click on Continue.
  • Upon successful verification, you will receive a 15-digit Temporary Reference Number (TRN). Note down the TRN as you need it for Part-B.
  • Complete Part-B of the registration within the next 15 days.

Part-B: Submitting Documents and Information

  • Go back to the GST portal, click on ‘Services,’ then ‘Registration,’ and select “TRN.”
  • Enter your TRN and captcha code. You will receive an OTP on your registered mobile number or PAN-linked contact details.
  • Enter the OTP and click on Proceed. Your application status will appear as ‘Draft.’ Click on the Edit icon to fill up the remaining details.
  • Provide information in various sections, such as business details, promoter/partner details, authorized signatory details, principal place of business details, additional place of business details, goods and services details, bank account details, state-specific information, etc.
  • Upload scanned copies of required documents like photographs, proof of identity, proof of address, proof of the business’s constitution, etc., based on your business type.
  • Verify your application using a digital signature certificate (DSC), e-signature, or electronic verification code (EVC).
  • After submitting your application, you will receive an Application Reference Number (ARN) on your registered email ID and mobile number or PAN-linked contact details.

Verification and GST Registration Certificate

  • A GST officer will verify your application within three working days.
  • If the officer is satisfied, he/she will approve your application and issue a GST registration certificate with a unique GSTIN (GST Identification Number).
  • Download the certificate from the GST portal using your ARN or GSTIN.
  • In case of any discrepancy or deficiency, the officer will issue a notice asking for clarification or additional information within 15 working days.
  • Respond to the notice within seven working days in Form GST REG-04.
  • If the officer approves your response, he/she will issue the GST registration certificate. Otherwise, the application may be rejected in Form GST REG-05 if the response is not satisfactory or not provided within the stipulated time.

Calculating GST Liability: A Step-by-Step Guide

GST liability refers to the tax amount that a taxpayer must pay to the government on the supply of goods and services. Calculating GST liability involves several steps, as outlined below:

Step 1: Calculate GST on Outward Supply, Reverse Charge, and Advances Received

  • GST on Outward Supply: Add up the GST amounts on all goods and services supplied by the taxpayer to others.
  • GST on Reverse Charge: Calculate the tax liability on goods and services received under reverse charge (paid by the recipient, not the supplier).
  • GST on Advances Received: Determine the GST amount on any advance payments received for future supplies.

Step 2: Find Gross GST Liability:

Add the GST amounts calculated in Step 1 to get the gross GST liability. This represents the total tax payable before adjusting for input tax credit or other adjustments.

Step 3: Deduct Input Tax Credit and GST Paid on Reverse Charge

Subtract the input tax credit (taxes paid on purchases used for taxable supplies) and GST paid on reverse charge from the gross GST liability.

Step 4: Obtain Net GST Liability

The remaining amount after Step 3 is the net GST liability. This is the final tax amount the taxpayer needs to pay to the government after adjusting for all credits and payments.

Example of Calculating GST Liability:

For instance, if a taxpayer has the following transactions in a month:

  • Outward supply of goods worth Rs. 1,00,000 at 18% GST rate
  • Outward supply of services worth Rs. 50,000 at 12% GST rate
  • Receipt of goods worth Rs. 20,000 under reverse charge at 5% GST rate
  • Receipt of advance payment of Rs. 10,000 for future goods supply at 18% GST rate
  • Purchase of goods worth Rs. 40,000 at 18% GST rate
  • Purchase of services worth Rs. 30,000 at 12% GST rate

The calculation of GST liability is as follows:

  • Step 1: GST on Outward Supply = (1,00,000 x 18%) + (50,000 x 12%) = Rs. 24,000 GST on Reverse Charge = (20,000 x 5%) = Rs. 1,000 GST on Advances Received = (10,000 x 18%) = Rs. 1,800
  • Step 2: Gross GST Liability = Rs. (24,000 + 1,000 + 1,800) = Rs. 26,800
  • Step 3: Input Tax Credit = (40,000 x 18%) + (30,000 x 12%) = Rs. 10,800 GST paid on Reverse Charge = Rs. 1,000
  • Step 4: Net GST Liability = Rs. (26,800 – 10,800 – 1,000) = Rs. 15,000

Export of Goods and Services: Zero-Rated Supply

For exports of goods and services, GST is zero-rated, meaning the recipient pays 0% GST to the supplier. The supplier can also claim a refund of input tax credit or taxes paid on inputs used for exports.

Claiming Refund for Zero-Rated Supplies

There are two options to claim a refund for zero-rated supplies under GST:

Option1: Supply services or goods under bond or letter of undertaking, allowing you to claim a refund of accumulated input tax credit without paying IGST.

Option 2: Supply goods or services on payment of IGST and claim refund of the IGST paid.


Suppose a taxpayer exports goods worth Rs. 2,00,000 at an 18% GST rate and has used inputs worth Rs. 1,00,000 at 18% GST rate for the export.

  • Option 1: The taxpayer can export the goods without paying any IGST and claim a refund of the input tax credit of Rs. 18,000.
  • Option 2: The taxpayer can export the goods by paying IGST of Rs. 36,000 and claim a refund of the IGST amount paid

The Detailed GST Return Filing Process

GST return filing is a crucial activity for GST-registered taxpayers, as it helps the tax authorities assess their tax liability and compliance with GST laws. The process comprises several steps, as detailed below:

Step 1: Register on the GST Portal

  • Visit the official GST portal and register using your state code and PAN number.
  • After successful registration, you will receive a 15-digit GSTIN (GST Identification Number) that will be used for all GST-related transactions.

Step 2: Invoice Upload

  • Upload your invoices on the GST portal or use GST-compliant software to generate invoices.
  • For each uploaded invoice, you will receive an invoice reference number (IRN) from the GST portal.

Step 3: File Monthly or Quarterly Returns

  • Depending on your turnover and type of taxpayer, you will need to file monthly or quarterly returns.
  • Some of the common return forms are GSTR-1 (for outward supplies), GSTR-3B (for summary of outward and inward supplies), GSTR-4 (for composition scheme taxpayers), GSTR-5 (for non-resident taxpayers), etc.
  • If you are a small taxpayer under the QRMP scheme, you can use the Invoice Furnishing Facility (IFF) to upload your B2B invoices for the first two months of a quarter.

Step 4: Fill in Return Details

  • Use the auto-populated data from your uploaded invoices or IFF to fill in the details of your outward supplies, inward supplies, output tax, input tax credit, etc.
  • Ensure accurate and complete information in the return form to avoid any discrepancies.

Step 5: Payment of Tax Liability

  • After filling in the return details, calculate your net tax liability (tax payable minus input tax credit).
  • Pay your tax liability using the electronic cash ledger or electronic credit ledger on the GST portal.
  • If you are a QRMP filer, you can also use Form PMT-06 to pay your monthly tax liability.

Step 6: Annual Return Filing

  • At the end of the financial year, file your annual return using Form GSTR-9.
  • Consolidate and reconcile all your monthly or quarterly returns for the entire year.
  • Provide additional information such as HSN-wise summary of outward supplies, audit details, etc.
  • If your turnover exceeds Rs. 5 crore, you will also need to file a reconciliation statement in Form GSTR-9C along with a certificate from a chartered accountant or cost accountant.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Ensure timely and accurate filing of GST returns to avoid penalties and interest.
  • Regularly reconcile your inward and outward supplies to ensure compliance.
  • Make use of GST-compliant software to streamline the return filing process.
  • Keep track of the due dates for different returns to avoid any delay in filing.

The Detailed GST Refund Process in India

GST refund is an essential process that allows taxpayers to claim a refund on the tax paid for certain transactions. The process involves several steps and requires proper documentation. Let’s delve into the detailed GST refund process in India:

Step 1: GST Registration

  • Register on the GST portal using your state code and PAN number to obtain a 15-digit GSTIN (GST Identification Number). This number will be used for all GST-related transactions.

Step 2: File GST Returns

  • File your monthly or quarterly returns, such as GSTR-1, GSTR-3B, GSTR-4, GSTR-5, etc., based on your turnover and taxpayer type. Provide accurate details of your outward and inward supplies, output tax, input tax credit, etc.

Step 3: Apply for GST Refund

  • If you are eligible for a refund, apply for it using Form RFD-01 on the GST portal within two years from the relevant date. The relevant date varies depending on the type of refund (e.g., date of export, date of payment, date of invoice).
  • Select the appropriate reason for the refund claim (e.g., export of goods or services, inverted tax structure, excess tax payment).
  • Upload relevant supporting documents like shipping bills, invoices, bank statements, certificates from chartered accountants, etc.

Step 4: Acknowledgement

  • After submitting the refund application, you will receive an acknowledgement number on your registered email and mobile. The application will be forwarded to the proper officer for verification.

Step 5: Provisional Refund

  • If you are claiming a refund as an exporter or a supplier to SEZ units or developers, you may receive a provisional refund of 90% of the eligible amount within seven days from the date of acknowledgement. This provisional refund is provided to ease liquidity.

Step 6: Scrutiny and Rectification

  • The proper officer will scrutinize your refund application. If any deficiencies or discrepancies are found, you will receive a notice (Form RFD-03). You must rectify the issues and reapply within 30 days from receiving the notice.

Step 7: Final Refund Order

  • Once the application is complete and verified, you will receive a final refund order (Form RFD-06) from the proper officer within 60 days from the date of receipt of the complete application.
  • The final refund amount, after deductions if any, will be credited to your bank account through NEFT or RTGS. You will also receive payment advice (Form RFD-05).

Step 8: Appeal (if required)

  • If you disagree with the refund decision, you can file an appeal (Form GST APL-01) to the appellate authority within three months from receiving the final order.
  • If you are not satisfied with the appellate authority’s decision, you can file a second appeal to the appellate tribunal within three months from receiving the first appellate order.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Ensure accurate filing of GST returns and complete documentation for smooth refund processing.
  • Be vigilant about the timeline for refund application and appeal processes.
  • Promptly respond to any deficiency notices to avoid delays in getting your refund.

Conclusion: Goods and Services Tax (GST) has reshaped India’s tax landscape, aiming to simplify the complex tax system, promote transparency, and foster economic growth. With its multi-stage, destination-based structure, various GST types, and fixed tax rates, GST has become a crucial aspect of businesses, ensuring seamless compliance and efficient tax administration. By embracing GST, India has taken a bold step towards creating a unified and simplified tax environment, benefitting both consumers and businesses.

FAQs about GST in India

What is GST and why was it introduced?

GST stands for Goods and Services Tax, introduced to simplify the tax structure and replace multiple taxes levied by the central and state governments. Its main objectives include eliminating the cascading effect of taxes, widening the tax base, and improving compliance.

What are the types of GST and how are they levied?

GST encompasses several types, namely CGST, SGST, IGST, and UTGST.CGST and SGST apply to intra-state supplies, where both central and state governments share the revenue. IGST is for inter-state supplies, and UTGST is for union territories.

What are the GST rates and how are they decided?

GST rates, ranging from 0% to 28%, are decided by the GST Council. Some goods and services are exempt or taxed at lower rates, while certain items attract an additional cess.

Who is liable to register under GST and how can one register?

Persons with an aggregate turnover exceeding Rs. 20 lakhs (Rs. 10 lakhs in special category states) must register for GST. Registration can be done online through the GST portal with required documents.

What is input tax credit and how can one claim it?

Input tax credit allows reducing tax liability by the amount paid on purchases. It can be claimed by filing returns and fulfilling certain conditions.

What are the returns to be filed under GST and what are their due dates?

Various returns like GSTR-1, GSTR-3B, GSTR-9, etc., need to be filed based on registration type and transactions. Due dates range from the 10th to the 31st of each month or quarter.

What are the penalties for non-compliance under GST?

Non-compliance may result in penalties, such as late filing fees, incorrect invoicing penalties, or penalties for fraud or suppression of facts.

What are the benefits of GST for consumers and businesses?

Benefits of GST include reduced overall tax burden, transparency, uniformity of tax rates, and improved compliance, which fosters increased tax revenue and consumer welfare.

What are the challenges and issues faced by GST implementation?

Challenges include technical glitches, lack of awareness, frequent changes in law, compliance burden for small businesses, and disputes between central and state governments.

What are the recent changes and updates in GST?

Recent changes include e-invoicing for B2B transactions, extensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rationalization of rates, and simplified return filing.

How can one pay GST online and what are the modes of payment?

GST can be paid online through internet banking, credit/debit card, NEFT/RTGS, or OTC cash payment at authorized banks.

What is the difference between CGST, SGST, IGST, and UTGST?

CGST and SGST apply to intra-state supplies, IGST applies to inter-state supplies, and UTGST applies in union territories.

What are the documents required for GST registration?

Documents like PAN card, Aadhaar card, business address proof, bank details, and photographs of authorized signatories are needed for GST registration.

What are the benefits of GST registration?

Benefits include eligibility for input tax credit, legal recognition as a supplier, compliance with GST law, and access to the online GST portal.

What are the types of invoices under GST and how to issue them?

Tax invoices and bills of supply are two types of invoices under GST. They contain various details and are issued by registered persons based on their supplies.

What is the difference between zero-rated, nil-rated, and exempt supplies under GST?

Zero-rated supplies are exports subject to 0% GST with full ITC, nil-rated supplies are subject to 0% GST without ITC, and exempt supplies are not subject to GST with no ITC.

What is the difference between the regular scheme and composition scheme under GST?

Regular scheme allows full ITC but normal taxation, while the composition scheme offers a fixed lower tax rate but no ITC, suitable for certain businesses.

What is the difference between invoice date and due date under GST?

Invoice date is when the invoice is issued, and the due date is the deadline to issue the invoice, varying based on supply type and time.

What is the difference between input, input service, and capital goods under GST?

Input refers to goods used in business, input service refers to services used in business, and capital goods are goods capitalized and used in business.

Can you explain the distinction between forward charge and reverse charge as per the GST system?

Forward charge is the supplier’s responsibility to pay GST, while reverse charge makes the recipient liable for GST payment.

What is the difference between GSTN, CBIC, and GST Council?

GSTN provides IT infrastructure, CBIC administers central taxes, and the GST Council recommends rates and rules.

What are the benefits of the e-invoicing system under GST, and how to generate e-invoices?

E-invoicing reduces errors, improves compliance, and integrates with other systems. E-invoices can be generated by uploading details on the IRP.

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