What is the difference between a VAT and a GST?

Goods and Service Tax is an indirect tax which the Government of India is planning to levy on all goods and services apart from those exempted by the GST law. The GST taxation laws will put an end to multiple taxes which are levied on different products, starting from the source of manufacturing to reaching the end consumer.

The GST is a dual taxation regime, where the only two components will be Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST). Under such nomenclature the total amount of GST for any goods or service will be distributed in both State and Central exchequers.

VAT vs GST

How is GST different from VAT?

VAT is applicable for goods sold and not service. Service tax takes care of services rendered. However, GST will be applicable for both goods and services, and will have a uniform pricing.

Very simply put, VAT is the tax a manufacturer has to pay for the additional value created. So, if the raw material costs INR 50 and finished product costs INR 100, the value added to raw material is INR 50.

However, the VAT applicable on INR 100 and INR 50 will be based on the VAT guidelines and the difference of those tax amounts needs to be paid by the manufacturer.

GST is essentially riding on the VAT calculation but with uniform taxation across goods and services. This is exceptionally easy computability as some goods are sold as services, like a food in a restaurant, and vice versa.

The proposed framework rides on the current principles but is slightly different when it calculates the interstate sales. The interstate sales are handled by an integrated GST model. This system ensures correct allocation of SGST and CGST, and the correct flow of money between the state and central exchequers.

Pros of GST

  • Uniformity in computing taxes for goods and service and elimination of multiple excise, CST, VAT, service tax calculations
  • Fixed rate of tax regime for both goods and services. The exact percentage is yet to be decided.
  • Appropriate allocation to Central and State funds.
  • Accounting will be simplified and consideration for input tax from raw materials will also become easy.

Cons of GST

  • VAT and service tax on some products may become higher than the current levels.
  • Most developed economies use a single GST instead of a dual GST. Hence, it will still be a very complicated billing and reconciliation IT machinery.
  • Since the mechanism is still complicated, it cannot completely eliminate black money and tax evasion.
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