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Goods and Services Tax (GST) is an indirect tax (or consumption tax) levied in India on the supply of goods and services. GST is levied 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.
Goods and services are divided into five tax slabs for collection of tax – 0%, 5%, 12%,18% and 28%. However, Petroleum products, alcoholic drinks, electricity, and real estate 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 a 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 cascading taxes levied by the central and state governments.
The tax rates, rules, and regulations are governed by the GST Council which consists of the finance ministers of center and all the states. GST is meant to replace a slew of indirect taxes with a unified tax and is therefore expected to reshape the country’s 2.4 trillion dollar economy, but not without criticism. Trucks’ travel time in interstate movement dropped by 20%, because of no interstate check posts.