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Introduction

The merits of GST GST will bring about a change in the tax system by redistributing the burden of taxation equitably between manufacturing and services. GST will enable broadening of the tax base, which will further result in reduction in effective rate of tax. It will reduce distortions by applying the destination principle for levy of taxes. It will foster a common market across the country, reduce compliance costs and promote exports. It can provide a fiscal base for local bodies to enable them to fulfill their obligations. It will facilitate investment decisions being made on purely economic concerns independent of tax considerations.

 

Urgency

The broad framework of GST is now clear, with the model being approved by the Government of India and Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers. The GST will be a dual tax with both Central and State GST component levied on the same base. The IGST framework will be used for goods and services that are exported across state boundaries. Thus, all goods and services, barring a few exceptions, will be brought into the GST base. For reasons of simplicity for the taxpayer, ease of tax administration, and bringing about a national common market, a common PAN-based taxpayer ID, a common return, and a common challan for tax payment have been agreed to by all stakeholders. A number of issues still remain to be resolved. These are presently under the consideration of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers under the Chairmanship of Dr Asim Dasgupta. Such issues include: the rates of taxation, the revenue sharing between States and Centre, and a framework for exemption, thresholds and composition. On the IT front, there has been consensus that there will be a common portal providing three core services (registration, returns and payments). The broad services framework of the portal has been discussed with the Sub Working group for IT. Various technology issues have been addressed including solution architecture and selection of likely service provider. However many other related issues need to be addressed which are on the critical path for GST going live by April 2011. Some of these issues include incubation, ownership and governance structures, development, deployment, and integration of existing systems, and change management procedures, among others. An update on some of these issues is provided in Section 6 of this document. Without a well-designed and well-functioning IT system, the benefits of GST will remain elusive. It is important that the design and implementation of the GST IT systems start without any further delay, and consensus is achieved on the unresolved policy issues in the earliest possible timeframe