Goods and Services Tax (GST) is an indirect tax (or consumption tax) imposed in India on the supply of goods and services. It is a comprehensive multistage, destination based tax: comprehensive because it has subsumed almost all the indirect taxes except few; multi-staged as it is imposed at every step in the production process, but is meant to be refunded to all parties in the various stages of production other than the final consumer. As a destination based tax, as it is collected from point of consumption and not point of origin like previous taxes.
Goods and services are divided into five different tax slabs for collection of tax – 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. However, petroleum products, alcoholic drinks, and electricity are not taxed under GST and instead are taxed separately by the individual state governments, as per the previous tax regime. There is a special rate of 0.25% on rough precious and semi-precious stones and 3% on gold. In addition a cess of 22% or other rates on top of 28% GST applies on few items like aerated drinks, luxury cars and tobacco products. Pre-GST, the statutory tax rate for most goods was about 26.5%, Post-GST, most goods are expected to be in the 18% tax range.
The tax came into effect from July 1, 2017 through the implementation of One Hundred and First Amendment of the Constitution of India by the Indian government. The tax replaced existing multiple flowing taxes levied by the central and state governments.