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V S Datey
Tax on sale within the State is a State subject. Over the period, many distortions had come in taxation due to unhealthy competition among States by giving sales tax incentives and ‘tax rate war’ started to attract more revenue to State. Many steps were taken to remove the distortions and rationalise tax structure since 1999. It was decided to introduce uniform State Level VAT. Introduction of VAT is difficult in India as sales tax is a State Subject and sales tax on sales within the State can be levied only by respective State Governments. Even in respect of Central Sales Tax (CST), though the tax is levied under Central Act, the CST is collected in the State from which goods are sold, i.e. originating State and CST so collected is retained by that State only. The CST amount never goes to Union Government. After lot of persuasion by Central Government, all States ultimately agreed to introduce State Level sales tax VAT at the conference of Chief Ministers of all States at Delhi in November, 1999. A high power Committee (termed as ‘Empowered Committee) consisting of senior representatives of all 29 States was constituted under Chairmanship of Dr. Asim Dasgupta, Finance Minister, West Bengal. Introduction of VAT was delayed on several occasions. Finally, it was announced that all States have agreed to introduce VAT w.e.f. 1-4-2005. A ‘White Paper’ was released by Dr. Asim Dasgupta, Chairman of Empowered Committee, on 17-1-2005. The White Paper is a policy document indicating basic policies of State Sales Tax VAT. Haryana was the only State to introduce VAT w.e.f. 1-4-2003. About 21 States have introduced VAT (though in diluted form) w.e.f. 1-4-2005. These include Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab and West Bengal. States ruled by BJP like Gujarat, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have not introduced VAT. In addition, Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal also have not introduced VAT till May 2005. It is expected that they will introduce VAT in due course.

1.1 Separate law for each States :
Each State has made changes as per their needs. Though basic concepts are same in VAT Acts of all States, provisions in respect of credit allowable, credit of tax on capital goods, credit when goods are sold inter-state are not uniform. Even definitions of terms like ‘business’, ‘sale’, ‘sale price’, ‘goods’, ‘dealer’, ‘turnover’, ‘input tax’ etc. are not uniform. Schedules indicating tax rates on various articles are also not uniform, though broadly, the schedules are expected to be same.

1.2 Possible loss of revenue to States :
State Governments are worried that introduction of sales tax VAT may lead to loss of revenue to them. Central Government has agreed to compensate State Governments upto 100% of loss in first year, 75% of loss of revenue in second year and 50% of loss of revenue in the third year. Formula for compensation has been finalised and provision has been made in Finance Budget of Union Government for 2005-06.
2. Basic Concept of VAT VAT works on the principle that when raw material passes through various manufacturing stages and manufactured product passes through various distribution stages, tax should be levied on the ‘Value Added’ at each stage and not on the gross sales price. This ensures that same commodity does not get taxed again and again and there is no cascading effect. In simple terms, ‘value added’ means difference between selling price and purchase price. VAT avoids cascading effect of a tax. Basically, VAT is multi-point tax, with provision for granting set off (credit) of the tax paid at the earlier stage. Thus, tax burden is passed on when goods are sold. This process continues till goods are finally consumed. Hence, VAT is termed as ‘consumption type’ tax. VAT works on the principle of ‘tax credit system’.

2.1 Meaning of ‘cascading effect of tax’ :
Generally, any tax is related to selling price of product. In modern production technology, raw material passes through various stages and processes till it reaches the ultimate stage. If a tax is based on selling price of a product, the tax burden goes on increasing as raw material and final product passes from one stage to other. For example, let us assume that tax on a product is 10% of selling price. Manufacturer ‘A’ supplies his output to ‘B’ at Rs. 100. Thus, ‘B’ gets the material at Rs. 110, inclusive of tax @ 10%. He carries out further processing and sells his output to ‘C’ at Rs. 150. While calculating his cost, ‘B’ has considered his purchase cost of materials as Rs. 110 and added Rs. 40 as his conversion charges. While selling product to C, B will charge tax again @ 10%. Thus C will get the item at Rs. 165 (150+10% tax). In fact, ‘value added’ by B is only Rs. 40 (150–110), tax on which would have been only Rs. 4, while the tax paid was Rs. 15. As stages of production and/or sales continue, each subsequent purchaser has to pay tax again and again on the material which has already suffered tax. Tax is also paid on tax. This is called cascading effect.

2.2 Disadvantages of cascading effect of taxes :
A tax purely based on selling price of a product has cascading effect, which has the following disadvantages :

Computation of Exact Tax Content was Difficult :
It becomes very difficult to know the real tax content in the price of a product, as a product passes through various stages and tax is levied at each stage. This is particularly important for granting Export incentives or for fixing regulatory prices. Varying Tax Burden - Tax burden on any commodity will vary widely depending on the number of stages through which it passes in the chain from first producer to the ultimate consumer.

Discourages Ancillarisation :
Ancillarisation means getting most of the parts/components manufactured from outside and making final assembly. It is common for large manufacturers (like automobile, machinery etc.) to get the parts manufactured from outside and make final assembly in his plant. If a component is purchased from outside, tax is payable. However, if the same component is manufactured inside the factory, no tax would be payable. Thus, manufacturers are tempted to manufacture parts themselves instead of developing ancillary units for supply of the same. This is against the national policy, because it discourages growth of Small Scale Industry and increases concentration of economic power.

Concessions on basis of END use is not possible :
Same article may be used for various purposes e.g. Copper may be used for utensils, electric cables or air conditioners. Government would naturally like to vary tax burden depending on use. However, this is not possible as when Copper is cleared from factory, its final use cannot be known. Exports cannot be made tax free – Though final products which are exported, are exempt from tax, there is no mechanism to grant rebate of tax paid at the earlier stages on the inputs. It may be noted that as per WTO (World Trade Organisation) stipulations, exports can be made free of domestic taxes, but export incentives as such cannot be given.

2.3 VAT avoids cascading effect of tax :
System of VAT works on tax credit method. In Tax Credit Method of VAT, the tax is levied on full sale price, but credit is given for tax paid on purchases. Thus, effectively, tax is levied only on ‘Value Added’. Most of the countries have adopted ‘tax credit’ method for implementation of VAT. The aforesaid illustration will work out as follows under VAT system. ‘B’ will purchase goods from ‘A’ @ Rs. 110, which is inclusive of duty of Rs. 10. Since ‘B’ is going to get credit of duty of Rs. 10, he will not consider this amount for his costing. He will charge conversion charges of Rs. 40.00 and sell his goods at Rs. 140. He will charge 10% tax and raise invoice of Rs. 154.00 to ‘C’. (140 plus tax @ 10%). In the Invoice prepared by ‘B’, the duty shown will be Rs. 14. However, ‘B’ will get credit of Rs. 10 paid on the raw material purchased by him from ‘A’. Thus, effective duty paid by ‘B’ will be only Rs. 4. ‘C’ will get the goods at Rs. 154 and not at Rs. 165 which he would have got in absence of VAT. Thus, in effect, ‘B’ has to pay duty only on value added by him. Following example will illustrate the tax credit method of VAT.
  Transaction without VAT Transaction With VAT
Details A B A B
Purchases - 110 - 100
Value Added 100 40 100 40
Sub – Total 100 150 100 140
Add Tax 10% 10 15 10 14
Total 110 165 110 154

Note - ‘B’ is purchasing goods from ‘A’. In second case, his purchase price is Rs 100/- as he is entitled to VAT credit of Rs 10/- i.e. tax paid on purchases. His invoice shows tax paid as Rs 14. However, since he has got credit of Rs 10/-, effectively is paying only Rs 4/- as tax, which is 10% of Rs 40/-, i.e. 10% of ‘value added’ by him.

Simply put, ‘value added’ is the difference between selling price and the purchase price. 2.4 Advantages of State Level VAT : The advantages are as follows, as enumerated in para 2.20 of White Paper on State-Level VAT:

  • Rationalisation of tax burden, which is expected to bring down price level.

  • Unhealthy tax-rate ‘war’ among States.

  • Trade diversion among States, which affects all States.

  • Simplicity and transparency.


Highlights of State Sales tax VAT
The highlights are as follows -

Tax Credit :
Manufacturer will be entitled to credit of tax paid on inputs used by him in manufacture. A trader (dealer) will be entitled to get credit of tax on goods which he has purchased for re-sale [para 2.3 of White Paper on State-Level VAT). No credit is available in case of inter-state purchases.

Credit of tax paid on capital goods :
Credit will be available of tax paid on capital goods purchased within the State. Credit will be available only in respect of capital goods used in manufacture or processing. The credit will be spread over three financial years and not in first year itself. There will be a negative list of capital goods [para 2.4 of White Paper on State-Level VAT) States have deviated from these provisions. Some States allow credit at one go while some allow over a period of 12 months and so on.

Instant credit :
Credit will be available as soon as inputs are purchased. It is not necessary to wait till these are utilised or sold [para 2.3 of White Paper on State-Level VAT).

No credit of CST paid : Credit of Central Sales Tax (CST) paid on inputs and capital goods purchased from other States will not be available. [para 2.6 of White Paper on State-Level VAT).
Transitional Credit of stock as on 1-4-2005 :
Input tax as already paid on goods lying in stock as on 1-4-2005 (which are purchased on or after 1-4-2004) will be available to dealer. Detailed stock statement will have to be submitted to sales tax authorities. This credit will be available over a period of six months after an interval of 3 months needed for verification [para 2.7 of White Paper on State-Level VAT). States have deviated from these provisions.

Very few sales tax forms :
Most of present sales tax forms will disappear. [para 2.14 of White Paper on State-Level VAT) However, forms relating to EOU/SEZ may continue. Forms under CST Act will continue.

One to one correlation not required :
VAT does not require one to one i.e. Bill to Bill correlation between input and output. Credit is available as soon as inputs/capital goods are purchased. The credit can be utilised for payment of VAT on any final product. It is not necessary to wait till the input is actually consumed/sold.

3.1 Tax rates :
Ideally, VAT should have only one rate. Though this is not possible, it is certain that there should be minimum varieties of rates. Broadly, following VAT rates are proposed [para 2.18 and 2.19 of White Paper on State-Level VAT)-

  • 0% on natural and un-processed produces in unorganised sector, goods having social implications and items which are legally barred from taxation (e.g. newspapers, national flag). This will contain 46 commodities, out of which 10 will be chosen by individual States which are of local social importance. Other commodities will be common for all States.

  • No VAT on AED items (textile, sugar and tobacco] in first year. Position will be reviewed later.

  • 1% floor rate for gold and silver ornaments, precious and semi-precious stones.

  • 4% for goods of basic necessities (including medicines and drugs), all industrial and agricultural inputs, declared goods & capital goods. This will consist of about 270 commodities.

  • 12.5% RNR (Revenue Neutral Rate) on other goods.

  • Aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and petroleum products (petrol, diesel and motor spirit) will be out of VAT regime. Liquor, cigarettes, lottery tickets, will also be taxed at a higher rate. These will have uniform floor rates for all States. Tax paid on these will not be eligible for input tax credit.

Subsequently, some changes have been made in April 2005. For example, specified life saving medicines have been exempted from VAT. Broadly, VAT rates of all States follow this pattern, but still there are many variations.
3.2 Concession for small dealers :
VAT will be payable only by those dealers whose turnover exceeds Rs 5 lakhs per annum. They can register on optional basis. Dealers having turnover exceeding 5 lakhs should register within 30 days from the date of liability to get registered [para 2.9 of White Paper on State-Level VAT)
In case of Karnataka, the limit is only Rs two lakhs. Most of States have kept the limit as Rs five lakhs.

Composition scheme for dealers with turnover upto Rs. 50 lakhs :

Small dealers having gross turnover exceeding Rs. 5 lakhs but less than Rs. 50 lakhs have option of composition scheme. They will have to pay a small percentage of gross turnover. They will not be entitled to any input tax credit [para 2.9 of White Paper on State-Level VAT) Composition rate of 1% tax has been prescribed in West Bengal VAT Act, AP VAT Act, Delhi VAT Act and Kerala VAT Act. In case of Karnataka, composition scheme is available only to a dealer whose turnover in a period of four consecutive quarters does not exceed Rs 15 lakhs. In Maharashtra, tax payable under composition scheme is 8% of difference between value of turnover of sales and value of turnover of purchases including tax (other than excluded goods) (in short, it is 8% of gross margin of trader). Second hand car dealer is required to pay sales tax @ 4%. In case of works contract, tax can be paid @ 8% of total contract value after deducting amount payable towards sub-contracts to the sub-contractors. Dealers who make inter-state purchases are not eligible for the composition scheme. This provision applies to VAT law of almost all States. The scheme is optional. They can opt to pay normal VAT and avail credit of input tax.

3.3 Policy about turnover tax, surcharge, additional tax etc. imposed by State Governments :
Those taxes on sale will go. However, Octroi and Entry tax (which is in lieu of octroi) will continue. Other type of Entry Tax will either be discontinued or will be made Vatable [para 2.16 of White Paper on State-Level VAT) .

3.4 Non-availability of input credit in certain cases :
Credit of tax paid on inputs will be denied in following situations - No credit if final product is exempt - Credit of tax paid on inputs is available only if tax is paid on final products. Thus, when final product is exempt from tax, credit will not be availed. If availed, it will have to be reversed on pro-rata basis.

No credit if output goods are stock transferred to another State :
If the final products are transferred to another State as stock transfer or branch transfer, input credit availed will have to be reversed on pro-rata basis, which is in excess of 4%. In other words, in case of goods sent on stock transfer/branch transfer out of State, 4% tax on inputs will become payable e.g. if tax paid on inputs is 12.5%, credit of 8.5% is available. If tax paid on inputs is 4%, no credit is available. Thus, the VAT as introduced is State VAT and not a national VAT.

No input credit in certain cases :
In following cases, the dealer is not entitled to input credit - (a) Inputs used in exempted final products (b) Final product not sold but given as free sample (c) Inputs lost/damaged/stolen before use. If credit was availed, it will have to be reversed.

No credit on certain purchases :
Generally, in following cases, credit is not available – (a) Purchase of automobiles (except in case of purchase of automobiles by automobile dealers for re-sale) (b) fuel. There are variations between provisions of various States.

Zero rated sale :
Certain sales are ‘zero rated’ i.e. tax is not payable on final product in certain specified circumstances. In such cases, credit will be available on the inputs i.e. credit will not have to be reversed. Distinction between ‘zero rated sale’ and ‘exempt sale’ is that in case of ‘zero rated sale’, credit is available on tax paid on inputs, while in case of exempt goods, credit of tax paid on inputs is not available.
As per para 2.5 of White Paper on State-Level VAT, export sales are zero rated, i.e. though sales tax is not payable on export sales, credit will be available of tax paid on inputs. In respect of sale to EOU/SEZ, there will be either exemption of input tax or tax paid will be refunded to them within three months.If supplies to EOU/SEZ are exempt from sales tax, then the question will arise whether these are ‘zero rated’ or ‘exempt goods’.

3.5 Credit of duty on capital goods :
Credit of capital goods is available. In West Bengal and Kerala, it is available in 36 monthly instalments. In Karnataka, it is available in 12 monthly instalments, but value of capital goods should be minimum Rs 10 lakhs. Capital goods of value less than Rs 10 lakhs will be ‘inputs’ and immediate credit will be available.

3.6 Procedural provisions :
General procedural provisions are as follows -

Tax Identification Number :
A system of audit checks will have to be established to keep check on bogus invoices. One essential requirement is to give TIN (Tax Identification Number) to all registered dealers, so that a check is maintained that (a) The tax as shown in the invoice has indeed been paid (b) There is no double credit on basis of same invoice. TIN will have to be indicated on each invoice issued. It will be a 11 digit numerical code. First two digits will indicate State Code [para 2.10 of White Paper on State-Level VAT) . Thus, State level computer network with check based on TIN will be established. Otherwise, misuse will be rampant.

Invoice based credit :
Tax credit will be given on basis of document, which will be a ‘Tax Invoice’, cash memo or bill. Such invoice can be issued only by a registered dealer, who is liable to pay sales tax. The invoice should be serially numbered and duly signed, containing prescribed details. The tax payable should be shown separately in the Invoice. The dealer should keep counterfoil/duplicate of such invoice duly signed and dated [para 2.8 of White Paper on State-Level VAT). In case of manufacturer, invoice issued under Central Excise Rules should serve purpose of VAT also, if the invoice contains required particulars.

Debit note and credit note :
If sale price is increased/reduced subsequent to sale, the transaction will be recorded through proper debit/credit note. The buyer will adjust the input credit available to him accordingly.

3.7 Provisions of assessment :
Dealer is required to assess his tax and pay himself. It will be basically self assessment. There will be no compulsory assessment at end of the year. If notice is not issued within prescribed time, dealer will be deemed to have been self assessed [para 2.12 of White Paper on State-Level VAT) Returns will be filed monthly/quarterly, as prescribed, along with challans. Returns will be scrutinised and if there is technical mistake, it will have to be rectified by dealer [para 2.11 of White Paper on State-Level VAT) As per West Bengal VAT Act, if dealer does not receive any intimation within two years from end of the accounting year, it is deemed that his return has been accepted by sales tax authority. In case of Andhra Pradesh, the time limit is four years from date of filing of return.

3.8 Other provisions of State VAT :
The other provisions are as follows -

Refund of input tax :
Entire input tax will be refundable within three months, when final product is exported. In respect of sale to EOU/SEZ, there will be either exemption of input tax or tax paid will be refunded within three months [para 2.5 of White Paper on State-Level VAT). If tax credit exceeds tax payable on sales, the excess credit will be carried to end of next financial year. Excess unadjusted credit at end of second year will be eligible for refund [para 2.4 of White Paper on State-Level VAT)

Check posts and transit passes :
Government can set up check posts. The invoice will have to be produced at the check posts. System, of transit pass may be introduced.

Exemptions and incentives to new industries already granted to continue :
State Governments have stopped giving incentives to new industries after January, 2000. However, there are commitments in respect of industries set up prior to January, 2000. State Governments to continue with the incentives which were already granted [para 2.15 of White Paper on State-Level VAT).

MRP based VAT on drugs at first stage :
Some States have introduced MRP based VAT at first stage of sale within Maharashtra. There will be no VAT at any subsequent stage. Though this is based on practical considerations in view of ground realities, it is true that this vitiates basic principle of VAT.


Accounting treatment of VAT
ICAI has issued Guidance Note on Accounting for State level VAT on 15-4-2005. The guidance note is based on principles of VAT as contained in White paper released on 17-1-2005. However, there are variations in respect of each State. Hence, accounting policies will have to be adopted to suit provisions of VAT law of the particular State. Following broad principles should be kept in mind.

  • As per AS-2, cost of purchase for purpose of inventory valuation should not include tax, if credit of tax paid is available.

  • For purpose of income tax, inventory valuation should be inclusive of taxes, even if its credit is available, as per section 145A of income tax.

  • Purchase account should be debited with net amount. VAT credit receivable on purchases should go to ‘VAT Credit Receivable (Input) Account.

  • Accounts of each rate i.e. 0%, 1%, 4%, 12.5% etc. is required to be kept separately.

  • In case of capital goods, as per AS-10, cost of fixed assets should include only non-refundable duties or taxes.

  • If entire credit of tax on capital goods is not available immediately, the credit that is available immediately should be debited to VAT Credit Receivable (Capital Goods) Account and credit which is not available immediately should be taken to ‘VAT Credit Deferred (Capital Goods) Account’.

  • In case of sales, the sales account should be credited only with net amount (i.e. exclusive of VAT). Tax payable should be credited to separate account ‘VAT Payable Account’ [This is ‘exclusion method’. Interestingly, in case of excise duty paid on final product, ‘inclusive method’ is permitted, i.e. sale account is credited inclusive of excise duty on final product].

  • If any VAT is payable at the end of period (after adjusting VAT credit available), the balance is to be shown as ‘current liability’.


Impact of VAT on CST
CST will continue after introduction of State VAT, though it is proposed to be phased out in due course. It is announced that CST may be reduced to 2% w.e.f 1-4-2006 and to Nil w.e.f. 1-4-2007. However, final decision has not been taken by Empowered Committee on this issue.

5.1 Provisions in State VAT relating to CST :
The provisions in respect of Central Sales Tax are summarised below –

  • Present CST rate of 4% will continue for some time. CST may go after decision in respect of loss of revenue to States is taken and comprehensive Taxation information System is put in place [para 4.3 of White Paper on State-Level VAT].

  • Present CST forms i.e. C, D, E-I/E-II, F, H and I will also continue.

  • There will be no credit of CST paid on inter-state purchases [para 2.6 of White Paper on State-Level VAT]

  • If goods are sent on stock transfer outside the State, input tax paid in excess of 4% will be allowed as credit. In other words, input tax to the extent of 4% will not be allowed as credit if goods are sent inter-state.

5.2 Local VAT and not National VAT :
The way sales tax VAT is proposed to be implemented by States, it is only local (i.e. State) VAT and not national VAT. Obviously, this is against basic concept of VAT.

Composition scheme dilutes VAT principles :
Composition system for small dealers having turnover upto Rs 50 lakhs has been introduced. Some States have introduced scheme of payment of VAT on drugs on the basis of MRP at first stage only, with no tax at subsequent stages. Though these are considering ground realities, there is no doubt that this has diluted the basic concept of VAT.

5.3 Discriminatory treatment to goods brought from out of State :
Provision of not granting credit of CST seems discriminatory. Article 303 of Constitution of India provides as follows, ‘Neither Parliament nor the legislature of State shall have power to make any law giving any preference to one State over another, or making any discrimination between one State and another’. As per Article 304(a), State Government can impose tax on goods imported from other States, but cannot discriminate between goods imported from other States and goods manufactured within the State.

Kelkar Committee in para 7.2 of its final report submitted in December 2002, has also expressed apprehensions about legal implications of Article 304(a) in State Level VAT. The Kelkar Committee has expressed apprehension that investment decisions will tend towards States where the market within the State is larger than outside. 5.4 States indirectly taxing inter-state transaction :
If goods sent on stock transfer basis, credit will be granted only in excess of 4% tax paid on inputs. Thus, indirectly, tax will be levied on stock transfers. As per Article 286, State Government cannot impose tax on sale or purchase during imports or exports; or tax on sale outside the State. It means that State Government can impose sales tax only on sale within the State.


Role of Chartered Accountant in VAT
Chartered Accountants have a key role to play in proper implementation and success of VAT.

Record keeping :
VAT will require proper record keeping and accounting. Systematic records of input credit and its proper utilisation is the key to success of VAT. Chartered Accountants have expertise in these areas. They can play a very significant role in ensuring proper implementation of VAT.

Tax planning :
Careful study of VAT is required to plan purchases and sales. Chartered Accountant is well trained to calculate impact of various alternatives and find out most optimum methods of purchases and sale to minimise tax impact.

Negotiations with suppliers to reduce price :
VAT credit will alter cost structure of goods supplied as inputs. Chartered Accountant can ensure that the benefit of cost reduction is passed on by suppliers to his company. On the other hand, when similar pressure comes from buyers of his company, he must be ready with full data to resist the claims.

Facing audit by departmental officers :
There will be audit wing in department and certain percentage of dealers will be taken up for audit every year on scientific basis. The audit wing will be independent of tax collection wing, to remove bias. There will be cross verification with Central Excise and Income Tax also. [para 2.13 of White Paper on State-Level VAT). Chartered Accountant can ensure proper record keeping to ensure satisfaction of departmental Auditors. He can systematically and fully reply audit queries and sort out audit objections, due to his professional expertise.

External Audit of VAT records :
There will be no regular assessment of all VAT returns. Only some returns will be scrutinised. In other cases, return filed by dealer will be accepted. Though trust has been reposed on tax payers, check on compliance is necessary. Professionals can play a very vital role in ensuring tax compliance, by audit of VAT accounts. VAT laws of some States provide for audit by outside agencies. In Karnataka, audit report is required if turnover exceeds Rs 25 lakhs. AP VAT Act provides for audit by CA, if audit is ordered by Commissioner. Maharashtra Government has made provision for audit by CA if turnover exceeds Rs 40 lakhs. In Delhi, the dealer is required to submit copy of audit report u/s 44AB of Income Tax Act. No separate audit is prescribed, unless special audit is ordered by department. Other States may also prescribe external audit, once they see the utility of Audit reports submitted by CA in ensuring tax compliance.

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