1.1  VAT Council of States, the body of State Finance

Ministers and Standing Council of Commissioners have agreed that the VAT should be implemented all over India from 1-4-2001. However, subsequently, after taking into consideration the fact that the groundwork is still in progress, the date has been extended to 1-4-2002. One thing is certain that the word ‘VAT’ [Value Added Tax] is a symbol of Globalisation and Liberalisation, which is a universal phenomenon for the current age is bond to be implemented in India.


2.1  Among many other things, the successful tax system always tries to avoid cascading effect of the tax. The VAT, being Value Added Tax, it presupposes that, if the tax is levied on sale value, all the taxes paid while making purchases as well as all the taxes paid during the process of manufacture or import are to be refunded. The CREDIT method or INVOICE method of VAT system ensures that the taxes shown in the purchase bills are given the credit to the dealers. The uncontrolled incidence of tax always shrinks the industry and trade and keeps away from the developing process of the national economy. The tax system has to be neutral so far as its effect on the choice of inputs and outputs for the manufacturer and choice of the goods for a consumer is concerned.

2.2   At the same time multiplicity of the rates has to be removed in a model system of taxation. That’s why the Finance Ministers Committee has agreed to keep the number of rates to four. Widespread taxation encourages the vertical integration of industries and thus discourages small-scale ancillary industries. Heterogeneity in the structure of tax, that is having different taxes like Sales Tax, Turnover Tax, Surcharge, Additional Tax, makes the system so much complicated that either there is tendency towards evasion or it makes a way for clashes between the administration and the assesses.


3.1  As pointed above VAT Council of States, and Standing Council of Commissioners have agreed that the VAT should be implemented from 1-4-2002. It was also agreed that there should be floor rates common to all the States. Though Maharastra State had introduced the floor rates from 1-1-2000.
But due to the pressure from people they were corrected on 13-1-2000 and 22-1-2000. However some fine-tuning of the classification has yet to be done giving another look at the grouping of the goods in to four-rate categories and floor-rates.

3.2  Abolition of the tax-related incentives scheme is another step in the direction of bringing VAT in to operation. In fact the States have taken this opportunity to stop the incentives to be given in the name of Backward Area. This will not only raise the revenue of the States but will also put end to the war among the States in the form of harmful competition of reducing tax rates to give tax incentives.

3.3  Draft model of VAT legislation has been prepared by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. The circulation of papers on VAT will certainly be creating the atmosphere towards readiness to accept VAT.


4.1  During the period from 1-10-1995 to 31-3-1999 Maharastra had VAT in a limited sense. Initially the limit covering the dealers under VAT was Rs. one crore but was brought down on 1-7-1997 to Rs. 40 lacs. Though the additional tax and Turnover Tax was abolished, the rates were over all increased to cover those taxes [most of the goods taxable at 10% were taxed at 13%]. Some 12 industries and 100% export units were allowed the full set-off of the sale tax paid on inputs.

4.2  It is said that the VAT was abolished from 1-4-1999 due to fall in the Sales Tax revenue. But the Economists do not agree to such reasoning. Since there was a general recession in the industry during 1996 to 1999, the govt could not have expected the increase in the tax revenue on implementation of VAT. In fact the fall in the tax revenue augmented by the set-off policy of giving refund to manufacturers manufacturing tax-free goods, 100% exporting Units, 12 preferred industries and reduction in the burden of taxes on inputs from 4% to 3% to all manufacturers. The decision to abolish Vat in Maharastra was thus a non-economic one, tinted with political surroundings.


5.1  Central Sales Tax was introduced in India in 1957. Every one knows the chaos created by the different basis for levy of tax on interstate sales, like situs of sale, manufacture or consumption criteria etc. With a view to provide the levy and collection of taxes on interstate sales and to put restrictions on the goods declared as of special importance the Central Sales Tax was brought in. But the main and indirect object of the Central Sales Tax Act was to keep watch on the movement of goods sold in interstate sales and thereby regulate and monitor the interstate trade so as to avoid the evasion of taxes. That is why the rate of tax was only 1% in case of transactions between the registered dealers.


6.1  The rate of Central Sales Tax is now increased to 4%. Thus instead of regulatory object of the Central Sales Tax Act, it has turned in to revenue earning tax. Because of higher rate of tax there is more evasion. The availability of bogus ‘C’ forms and misuse of ‘F’ forms by taking shelter of branch transfers or consignment sales, is the direct result of the higher rate of Central Sales Tax. The higher rate has also affected the national economy, as the goods produced in Indian state are costlier than the goods imported from foreign countries.

6.2  The levy of Central Sales Tax on the inputs has tendency to increase the cost of production. This also has a cascading effect because the finished goods of one state may be the raw materials for goods being manufactured in other state. Thus the final product has heavy tax burden because no state is willing to refund the tax burden levied by other state. This also results in unbalanced growth of industries without having any relation to the best-suited environment for the production of goods.

6.3  The incidence of Central Sales Tax is discriminating against the consuming states. The consumers of industrial backward states have to pay the Central Sales Tax on the goods purchased from other states. This tax is collected in the coffers of the developed states. Within the semi-federal feature of the Indian Constitution, it is socially unjustified to burden the poor people of the backward state with the tax going to the industrially developed state.

6.4  Obtaining ‘C’ or ‘D’ forms from any Sales Tax office is very difficult processes. In fact obtaing the ‘C’ form is itself a topic for separate and independent article. Misuse of ‘C’ forms has another story towards evasion of tax. Instead of smoothening the interstate trade, the ‘C’ form hampers the free flow of trade from one state to another.

6.5  The advantage of the situation like one that is available to the European Common Market is denied to Indian states because of Central Sales Tax. The Central Sales Tax does not allow the states to unite to form the common market that is essential in the wake of Globalisation and Liberalisation.

6.6 The export trade of India is also affected by the levy of Central Sales Tax. The export is exempted from tax but the inputs required for the goods to be exported is not exempted. The penultimate sale of the goods to be exported is exempt, but the raw materials used for manufacture of the goods to be exported are not exempted. This results in increasing the cost of production which directly affects the export trade.

6.7 The penultimate sale in the course of export is exempt under Central Sales Tax Act. But to claim such exemption form ‘H’ has to be produced. It is very difficult for the dealers selling the goods to exporters to obtain ‘H’ form.

Ordinarily the exporters do not have a confirmed order in hand unless the samples as drawn from the bulk are and shown to the foreign buyers. More over the exporters are reluctant to give ‘H’ form as the details about the foreign importer, mode of dispatch and destination are to be mentioned in ‘H’ form.


7.1 As discussed in para 6 above the Central Sales Tax needs to be abolished. If it cannot be abolished before 1-4-2002, that is before coming in to force the VAT, the provision to grant refund of the Central Sales Tax paid on the inputs must be made in the VAT. In Canada, the country on whose pattern the ensuing VAT is said to be drafted, there is no tax on the sales made in the course of interstate trade and commerce. Inter state sales are exempt from taxes. It will be also in consonance with the basic idea of VAT that it is a tax on the ‘value added’ and once the tax is levied on the higher value of the sale point, the credit for the all kinds of taxes paid on the purchases should be refunded.

8.1 For the first time in the year 1994 the Service Tax was introduced in India as an associate of Central Excise Act. The telephone service, non-life insurance and Stock Brokers were the first to be brought under the purview of the Service Tax. Since then the net of Service Tax is being widened and today about 41 services are on the list of taxable services. The rate of tax is uniform at 5% of the receipts for the value of taxable service provided by the service provider. The separate registration by the service provider is necessary, which is given by the Central Excise authorities. The Service Tax can be colleted from the clients and has to be paid quarterly to the govt. Failure to follow the procedure and late payment of taxes attract interest, penalty and punishment.

8.2  The trader or the manufacturer, who will be paying VAT, will ordinarily be paying the Service Tax on the expenses for following services that are directly utilized by him in the process of value addition.

i]   Telephone and Telegraph Charges, Fax charges, Property,Insurance, Courier charges;

ii]  Advertising expenses, Photography and Video shooting charges;

iii] Charges of Consulting Engineer, Architect, Interior decorator, Security agency;

iv]  Charges of Management Consultant, Chartered Accountant, Cost Accountant, Company Secretary,  Market Research Agency, Scientific or Technical  Consultant, Banking and Financial Institution charges, On-line Information Service charges;

v]   Custom House Agency charges, Shipping Line and Container charges, C & F Agency commission paid, Air Travel Agency charges, Automobile Service charges.

8.3 When all such charges going into the manufacturing or trading expenses bear the Service Tax burden of 5%, levy of VAT on the sale price comprising the said charges will have a cascading effect on the price structure of the commodities. Therefore in a perfect VAT system there is no place for the Service Tax. It has to vacate the place for VAT. If that is not possible, in the larger interest of economic growth, the refund of the Service Tax paid on all kinds of inputs must be given credit in full.

8.4  In Canada there is GST, which means Goods and Service Tax. It is about 7% and is collected by the Federal or Central Govt. States used to levy RST or VAT at 8%. Now there is only one tax system known as HST [Harmonised Sales Tax]. It is levied at 15%. It is comprehensive tax covering as much as possible at the bases. The tax on services is also included in HST.


9.1 The levy of excise duty is undoubtedly claiming the substantial share in value addition process. The present scheme of Modvat is only restricted to the credit and refund of the excise duty paid on the raw material used in manufacture or process resulting in new commodities.

9.2 When VAT comes into existence, the levy of tax being on the sale price that is on the increased value, to avoid the ill effects of multi-taxation it is essential that the Central Excise Duty paid on the inputs is given credit or is refunded when the VAT is paid on the output.


Since VAT will be comprehensive tax levied on the sale price, to avoid its ill effects on the growth of the economy, the abolition of Central Sales Tax and Service Tax must be given a serious thought. If its abolition is not possible then, to be in conformity with the optimal tax theory, it is very essential that all kinds of taxes paid on the inputs must be given credit or be refunded. In this article, the taxes levied by the Central Acts are only considered. What is true of Taxes under Central Acts is also true of the other taxes levied by the States, like Works Contract Tax, Lease Tax, Luxury Tax, Motor Sprit Tax etc. But that will be another story.

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