GST - Introduction to GST - The Journey of GST in India


On July 1st, 2017, India moved to a new tax system – one that aims at converting the entire nation into a single market. If you are new to GST and keen to know how this new tax will affect you and your business, this section will help you understand the basics of the ‘Good and Simple Tax’.

What is GST in India?

GST is known as the Goods and Services Tax. It is an indirect tax that has replaced many indirect taxes in India such as the excise duty, VAT, services tax, etc. The Goods and Service Tax Act was passed in the Parliament on 29th March 2017 and came into effect on 1st July 2017.

In other words, Goods and Service Tax (GST) is levied on the supply of goods and services. Goods and Services Tax Law in India is a comprehensive, multi-stage, destination-based tax that is levied on every value addition. GST is a single domestic indirect tax law for the entire country.

Before the Goods and Services Tax could be introduced, the structure of indirect tax levy in India was as follows:

Under the GST regime, the tax is levied at every point of sale. In the case of intra-state sales, Central GST and State GST are charged. All the inter-state sales are chargeable to the Integrated GST.

Now, let us understand the definition of Goods and Service Tax, as mentioned above, in detail.


An item goes through multiple change-of-hands along its supply chain: Starting from manufacture until the final sale to the consumer.

Let us consider the following stages:

  • Purchase of raw materials
  • Production or manufacture
  • Warehousing of finished goods
  • Selling to wholesalers
  • Sale of the product to the retailers
  • Selling to the end consumers

The Goods and Services Tax is levied on each of these stages making it a multi-stage tax.

A manufacturer who makes biscuits buys flour, sugar and other material. The value of the inputs increases when the sugar and flour are mixed and baked into biscuits.

The manufacturer then sells these biscuits to the warehousing agent who packs large quantities of biscuits in cartons and labels it. This is another addition of value to the biscuits. After this, the warehousing agent sells it to the retailer.

The retailer packages the biscuits in smaller quantities and invests in the marketing of the biscuits, thus increasing its value. GST is levied on these value additions, i.e. the monetary value added at each stage to achieve the final sale to the end customer.


Consider goods manufactured in Maharashtra and sold to the final consumer in Karnataka. Since the Goods and Service Tax is levied at the point of consumption, the entire tax revenue will go to Karnataka and not Maharashtra.

2. The Journey of GST in India

The GST journey began in the year 2000 when a committee was set up to draft law. It took 17 years from then for the Law to evolve. In 2017, the GST Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. On 1st July 2017, the GST Law came into force.

3. Advantages Of GST

GST has mainly removed the cascading effect on the sale of goods and services. Removal of the cascading effect has impacted the cost of goods. Since the GST regime eliminates the tax on tax, the cost of goods decreases.

Also, GST is mainly technologically driven. All the activities like registration, return filing, application for refund and response to notice needs to be done online on the GST portal, which accelerates the processes.

4. What are the components of GST?

There are three taxes applicable under this system: CGST, SGST & IGST.

  • CGST: It is the tax collected by the Central Government on an intra-state sale (e.g., a transaction happening within Maharashtra)
  • SGST: It is the tax collected by the state government on an intra-state sale (e.g., a transaction happening within Maharashtra)
  • IGST: It is a tax collected by the Central Government for an inter-state sale (e.g., Maharashtra to Tamil Nadu)


  • Let us assume that a dealer in Gujarat had sold the goods to a dealer in Punjab worth Rs. 50,000. The tax rate is 18% comprising of the only IGST.

In such a case, the dealer has to charge an IGST of Rs.9,000. This revenue will go to the Central Government.

  • The same dealer sells goods to a consumer in Gujarat worth Rs. 50,000. The GST rate on goods is 12%. This rate comprises CGST at 6% and SGST at 6%.

The dealer has to collect Rs.6,000 as Goods and Service Tax, Rs.3,000 will go to the Central Government and Rs.3,000 will go to the Gujarat government since the sale is within the state.

5. Tax Laws before GST

In the earlier indirect tax regime, there were many indirect taxes levied by both the state and the center. States mainly collected taxes in the form of Value Added Tax (VAT). Every state had a different set of rules and regulations.

Inter-state sale of goods was taxed by the center. CST (Central State Tax) was applicable in the case of inter-state sale of goods. The indirect taxes such as the entertainment tax, octroi, and local tax were levied together by state and center. These led to a lot of overlapping of taxes levied by both the state and the center.

For example, when goods were manufactured and sold, excise duty was charged by the center. Over and above the excise duty, VAT was also charged by the state. It led to a tax on tax effect, also known as the cascading effect of taxes.

The following is the list of indirect taxes in the pre-GST regime:

  • Central Excise Duty
  • Duties of Excise
  • Additional Duties of Excise
  • Additional Duties of Customs
  • Special Additional Duty of Customs
  • Cess
  • State VAT
  • Central Sales Tax
  • Purchase Tax
  • Luxury Tax
  • Entertainment Tax
  • Entry Tax
  • Taxes on advertisements
  • Taxes on lotteries, betting, and gambling

CGST, SGST, and IGST have replaced all the above taxes.

However, certain taxes such as the GST levied for the inter-state purchase at a concessional rate of 2% by the issue and utilization of ‘Form C’ is still prevalent.

It applies to certain non-GST goods such as:

  1. Petroleum crude;
  2. High-speed diesel
  3. Motor spirit (commonly known as petrol);
  4. Natural gas;
  5. Aviation turbine fuel; and
  6. Alcoholic liquor for human consumption.

It applies to the following transactions only:

  • Resale
  • Use in manufacturing or processing
  • Use in certain sectors such as the telecommunication network, mining, the generation or distribution of electricity, or any other power sector.

6. How Has GST Helped in Price Reduction?

During the pre-GST regime, every purchaser, including the final consumer paid tax on tax. This condition of tax on tax is known as the cascading effect of taxes.

In the case of Goods and Services Tax, there is a way to claim the credit for tax paid in acquiring input. The individual who has already paid a tax can claim credit for this tax when he submits his GST returns.

In the end, every time an individual is able to claims the input tax credit, the sale price is reduced and the cost price for the buyer is reduced because of lower tax liability. The final value of the biscuits is therefore reduced from Rs.2,244 to Rs.1,980, thus reducing the tax burden on the final customer.

7. What are the New Compliances Under GST?

Apart from online filing of the GST returns, the GST regime has introduced several new systems along with it.

e-Way Bills

GST introduced a centralized system of waybills by the introduction of “E-way bills”. This system was launched on 1st April 2018 for inter-state movement of goods and on 15th April 2018 for intra-state movement of goods in a staggered manner.

Under the e-way bill system, manufacturers, traders, and transporters can generate e-way bills for the goods transported from the place of their origin to its destination on a common portal with ease. Tax authorities are also benefited as this system has reduced time at check -posts and help reduce tax evasion.


Recently, the e-invoicing system has been launched on a trial basis starting from January 2020 and applicable from October 2020. This system requires large businesses with an annual aggregate turnover of more than Rs.100 crore to comply with some requirements.

They must obtain a unique invoice reference number for every business-to-business invoice by uploading it on the GSTN’s portal known as the invoice registration portal. The portal verifies the correctness and genuineness of the invoice. Thereafter, it authorizes using the digital signature along with a QR code.

E-invoicing allows interoperability of invoices and helps reduce data entry errors. It is designed to pass the invoice information directly from the IRP to the GST portal and the e-way bill portal. It will, therefore, eliminate the requirement for manual data entry while filing ANX-1/GST returns and for the generation of part-A of the e-way bills.

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