Impact of GST on Your Day to Day Business

The Goods and Services Tax or GST goes live on July 1, 2017, but the process of consolidation and enrolment has already begun. Aiming to standardise indirect taxation in the country as far as goods and services are concerned, the GST will have a multi-fold and direct impact on the workings of businesses, whether large corporate houses or SMEs.

A quick overview of GST will help businesses understand its implications play to its advantage.

About GST

GST is a standardisation of the indirect taxation regime across the nation, leading to subsuming of many earlier state and central tax regime laws. Now, goods and services will be taxed under four basic slabs—5%, 12%, 18% or 28%—creating a new norm in indirect taxation. Traditionally, indirect taxes have had a very significant impact on businesses, particularly on their working capital. A number of taxes such as VAT, Service Tax, Excise Tax and others have resulted in huge contributions to the government and in effect, a huge expense for businesses. The hidden nature of indirect taxes, often spreading across multiple stages of the product cycle, has been a significant drain on working capital. Typically, the proportion of indirect taxes is significantly more in tax collections in developing countries, as compared to developed countries, where the share of direct taxation is significantly higher.

With the implementation of the GST, tax buckets are set to change, as also the way of doing business, as the cash outflow and timelines are about to be significantly affected. Working capital is the lifeline of a business, one that keeps it up and running. Especially for SMEs, it helps carry on day-to-day operations, which are critical to business continuity and success.

Here are some key GST changes that will directly affect your business and working capital flows.

  1. Input tax credit changes: As per the existing taxation system, any tax paid on a business expense that is not directly related to taxable sales is not available as credit. For example, any tax paid on advertising expenses will not be available as credit. GST has a new concept called the “Furtherance of Business” under which it allows credit of any kind of input for business to be “used or intended to be used in the course of or for the furtherance of business”. Now, a businessman can claim credit for tax paid on advertising services as well, giving the businessman significant leeway. The positive outcome is that cost of operations will greatly reduce, and net margins will increase, thereby bettering the working capital flow of the business, and perhaps the line of credit in the future.
  2. Claims due to inverted duty structure: An inverted duty structure is one where inputs are taxed higher than outputs i.e., raw material excise duty is higher (12.5%) than finished goods (6%), leading to a situation where the excess i.e., 6.5% is unused and gets accumulated. Under the current regime, this excess is not refundable. With the introduction of GST, businesses can now claim the unutilized input tax credit accumulated due to inverted duty structure. This, coupled with a speedy claims process, is a boon to boost the working capital of businesses.
  3. Timeliness of input tax credit: Currently, the input credit that a businessman avails is not captured in real-time, or in other words, in line with the current tax liability of the supplier. With GST, the input tax credit amount will depend on the compliance level of the supplier, making it compulsory for the supplier to declare the outward supplies along with the tax payment.  In a way, you might be responsible for your supplier’s failure to furnish valid returns. This may mean a dip in your cash flows since the input credit tax that you have claimed will be reversed and you will be expected to pay interest too, apart from losing out on the credit. GST will thus mandate businesses to manage their vendors very effectively. Review your current vendors and continuously monitor compliance levels to avoid this concern.
  4. Advance tax payments: Under the GST regime, tax needs to be paid on advance receipt dates. This is a major change, since so far this was applicable to only service tax under the current system. Now, if an advance is received against supply at a later date, the tax is liable to be paid on the date of advance receipt. The matter becomes worrisome since even though the business pays tax in advance, it cannot be claimed under the bucket of input tax credit immediately. It can be availed only once the goods or services are received.
  5. Taxation of stock transfers: The current VAT rules do not treat stock transfers as “goods” or “services”. However, with the GST, this changes—stock transfers are included under the category of goods/services and are taxable. This change will directly impact companies’ cash flows because the tax is to be paid on the date of stock transfer, whereas input tax credit can be availed of on the date of stock liquidation. How the working capital holds up in the interim period can be a crucial element to maintaining the working capital levels of the company
  6. The impact of location in offsetting credit: The prevailing Service Tax regime allows for centralised, pan-India registration of business. As a result, there are no restrictions on availing input tax credit across locations. However, under GST, different state entities need to be registered separately. These will be under varying jurisdictions depending on whether they come under the Central GST Bill, Integrated GST Bill or the Union Territory GST Bill. There are certain restrictions to offset a Central GST tax with an Integrated GST tax and so on. This may create difficulties in offsetting tax input credits across locations. For example, you may not be able to offset tax liabilities of one state branch with another state branch. Your liquidity may not be useful, even though it is available, creating an undesirable working capital situation.
  7. It is clear that businesses will need to exert more caution as they transition to GST. A detailed scrutiny of current tax commitments and the impact of the four bills depending on operational locations must be done at the outset to ensure healthy levels of working capital. It is also recommended to explore opportunities for availing working capital finance, or options for a line of credit by looking for the latest financing products such as those offered by Capital Float. Our customised, innovative loan offerings include term finance and online seller finance among others to ease working capital woes that SMEs routinely face. Click here for more.

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Implications of GST for Services

The new Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a unified tax structure that was implemented by the Government of India on 1 July 2017. The new regime has ushered a significant change in taxation levels and rules associated with it. On an average, we see the tax slab increasing from 15% to 18% for most of the services. While this may translate to higher cost of services to the end consumer, GST also presents a whole lot of opportunities, pushing ease of business.

Services Sector in India: An Overview

India is a strong services-led economy with the sector generating a significant chunk of employment opportunities and contributing to the GDP. It contributed around 66.1% of India’s Gross Value Added (GVA) growth in 2015-16, is the biggest magnet for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and an important net foreign exchange earner. Some of the core areas of service are IT and ITES, banking and financial services, outsourcing, research and development, transportation, telecommunications, real estate and professional services.

Some of the positive impacts of GST on service providers are:

Clear distinction between goods and services: The old regime does not clearly distinguish between goods and services, leading to many instances of double taxation. For example, software is often treated as a good and as a service. The new regime clearly distinguishes goods from services, and also defines principal supply, composite supply, and mixed supply separately. For example, when an individual books a Rajdhani train ticket which includes meals, it involves a composite supply wherein the ticket and the meals cannot be sold separately. Since the transportation of the passenger is the principal supply, the rate of tax will only be charged on the ticket. Alternatively, for items that can be sold separately, but are sold together, like a hamper of snacks and aerated drinks, the rate of tax applicable on the higher product will be levied on the composite supply. There are also separate definitions for supply of software, works contracts, and leasing transactions to bring in more clarity and transparency on their taxation rules.

Streamlining of taxation for intra-state service providers: Due to the state level taxes being subsumed, it will become easier for service providers that operate within the state to know their tax obligations better. Such companies can move away from multiple tax calculations. For example, a CD with software incurs Excise, Service Tax, and VAT under the old regime; this is simplified to one unified rate under GST, making tax calculations and administration easier for intra-state service providers.

Input credit facility: VAT payment under the old regime was not eligible for setting off against output liabilities. The input credit facility is now made available to service providers as well, wherein tax paid on any inputs can be claimed and adjusted against tax paid on output. This will result in direct cost savings for service providers and may even offset the expected rise in end pricing. For example, an AC fitter who paid tax on the raw material for AC fittings (pipe, tape, solder etc.) will be able to claim that tax, and end up spending less on the cost of fitting the AC. This cost advantage can spill over to the customer as well.

Regularised return filing: The old service tax system required two half-yearly returns for services businesses. Under GST, this has been replaced by a number of returns provisions, depending on the type of taxpayer and the type of business:

Return Type of tax payer Timeline of filing return
GSTR 1 For outward supplies of sale (for registered taxable person) By 10th of the next month
GSTR 2 For inward supplies received by a taxpayer (for registered taxable person) By 15th of the next month
GSTR 3 Monthly return for registered taxable person (except for Compounding Taxpayer) By 20th of the next month
GSTR 4 Quarterly return for Compounding Taxpayer/Composition Supplier By 18th of the next month
GSTR 5 Periodic return by Non-Resident Foreign Taxpayer By 20th of the next month
GSTR 6 Return for Input Service Distributor (ISD) By 13th of the month succeeding the quarter
GSTR 7 Return for Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) By 10th of the next month
GSTR 8 Annual Return for e-commerce operator By 10th of the next month

While a shorter timeline for filing returns might seem overwhelming, regularisation in return filing will result in better streamlining of taxes. Since all these returns are required to be submitted online through a common portal provided by GSTN, the process is simplified and will help the government weed out regular defaulters. This in turn will result in a major boost in the contribution of the Service sector to the GDP.

Service providers, however, are concerned about the following aspects:

  • State-wise registration will be required: In the old regime, a service provider could operate with a single place of registration, since services were taxed only by the Central government. For example, if an IT services provider was present across states, they could carry out tax and delivery transactions from the main location. However, now a service provider that is offering services across states must register each place of business separately in each state. This is because the new GST regime entails taxation of services at “location of service recipient”, which will differ for different states. This means service providers will need to register afresh in new states and then carry out tax transactions separately in each state. For example, an IT company like TCS that has a widespread presence across states will need to decentralise service delivery.
  • Decentralised reporting will add to costs: Under GST, the “location of service recipient” is the key criterion for how a service will be taxed. Tax considerations will be related to the place the service is being delivered, and even a pan-India service provider with several “locations of service” will need to maintain state-wise records of input credit, audits, service consumption, etc. For example, earlier a service provider like TCS would enter into a single contract with the client, based on its main location, and then would discharge service tax based on the single-service tax registration model. GST will decentralise service delivery models, ensuring various TCS units adopt their own tax reporting and tax management. While this need for decentralised tax tracking and processing is an immediate cost to service providers, it presents a very real opportunity to streamline reporting and compliance measures for the future.

GST offers clear benefits to the services sector, and while some of these measures entail additional cost and effort in the short term, businesses can look forward to simpler operations with the new taxation laws.

All in all, services industries must gear up for better ways to manage business. Now is the time for them to equip themselves with the right people, processes and technologies, and emerge as service providers of the future.

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Oct 24, 2018

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Here is How Unsecured Loans are Different from Secured Loans

Adequate funding is a pre-requisite for any business. Whether a project is at its initial stage or in the development phase, it needs ample financial backing to keep up its growth momentum. However, finding adequate funding can be a challenging process despite the market now offering a wide range of alternatives to traditional sources of finance.

In their search for funding options, start-ups and small businesses often stand at crossroads where they must choose between secured and unsecured loans. On the surface, both look “equally attractive” with their respective advantages. Borrowers are frequently perplexed as to which should be their final choice.

It is therefore important to delve more deeply into these two broad categories of loans and compare their costs with the benefits they bring. Businesses must also be aware of their own financial situation to understand clearly which loan option they will be eligible for.

Let us first understand the basic concepts of secured and unsecured business loans in India.

Secured Loan

A secured loan is always backed by assets. While applying for such a loan, the business must own something of measurable financial value, which can be offered as collateral to the lending institution. This could be an immovable property (a plot of land with or without construction), gold, a valuable investment portfolio, or any other asset that can be liquidated. Businesses can also extend their machinery, raw material or inventory stock as collateral.

The collateral has to be pledged to the lending institution. This implies that the lender will hold the title/deed to the collateral until the loan is fully paid off. However, the borrower retains the ownership of the asset and will continue to enjoy benefits accruing from it.

If the borrower fails to pay off the loan in the stipulated time, the lending institution has the right to take over the possession of the collateral and sell it to recover the outstanding debt amount. Typically, with secured loans, the end use of funds borrowed is pre-determined.

Advantages of secured loans

Borrowers are often lured to secured loans in the hope that they will be able to procure a larger loan amount than what unsecured loans can offer. The longer period available to pay back the borrowed sum is also a perceived advantage.

Another apparent benefit of these loans is the lower interest rate charged on them. This is based on the rationale of lesser risk involved, thanks to the collateral that can be sold off by the lender in case of payment defaults.

THE CAUTION – What must also be remembered is that some secured loans can have very high interest rates. There are financial agencies that charge the highest legal interest rate for business loans despite taking collateral from the borrower. Reading the fine print carefully is always recommended. In some cases, a low interest rate can also be a promotional or limited period offer that may be withdrawn after a few months.

In addition to non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), nationalised and private banks also offer secured loans to businesses, but the banking penetration in India is still low. This prevents several small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from obtaining a secured loan at a reasonable interest rate.

Another common disadvantage of secured loans is that the process of getting approval is longer and calls for more paperwork than an unsecured loan.

This brings us to the second business loan category.

Unsecured Loans

An unsecured loan is not backed by any collateral. It allows the borrower to get funds without having to offer any asset as guarantee to the lending institution. Generally, unsecured business loans come with a fixed term and fixed rate of interest.

Unsecured loans are offered based on the credit worthiness of the borrower. For an enterprise, the eligibility can be gauged in terms of years in business, its annual turnover and the primary location (city) from which it operates.

The tenure of these loans is often shorter than the long-term loans granted by banks. Most nationalised and private banks approve loans for SMEs with a payback tenure of not less than one year. NBFCs can offer immediate loans for shorter periods. At Capital Float, unsecured small business loans are offered for a tenure of one to 12 months. This gives the borrower the advantage of securing quick funds for sudden needs. Once the project begins to reap returns, the business can pay off the loan and thus avoid paying interest for prolonged terms.

Advantages of unsecured loans

When a business requires only a small amount, an unsecured loan is a better alternative than a secured one, especially if the business does not want to expose its financial assets to the risk of repossession. Also, those companies that do not possess sufficiently valued assets for the amount they require can find easy access to working capital finance with unsecured business loans.

Such loans also act as a good source of funds for companies that are already trading. Since the loan is unsecured, the lenders decide upon its amount by simply assessing the trading position of the business. Background checks are performed on credit history, cash flow position, cash reserves and balance sheet.

Unsecured business loans are quicker to obtain than secured loans. We provide funds to our clients within 3 days once they submit the necessary documents and clear the eligibility criteria. As against this, private banks take more than two weeks in forwarding the grant, while public sector unit banks can take 4-6 weeks for the same.

If your business needs immediate financial support and you are hesitant to offer any collateral to the lender, unsecured business credit will work for your best interests. By choosing Capital Float as your trusted finance partner, you are assured of a quick digital process to submit your application. The entire loan disbursal process is completed in three simple steps, given below:

  • Upload the minimum required documents on our website
  • Receive approval in minutes if your paperwork makes the business eligible for loan
  • Get the funds within next 72 hours

Do not let the long-drawn processes of conventional funding delay the pace of your venture’s development. In the digital age, unsecured corporate loans can conveniently help you accelerate your business growth.

Oct 24, 2018

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Considerations When Taking Short-Term Business Loans

Going the entrepreneurial route is a tough decision to take. Several people contemplate it, but only a few take that leap. Starting a business may be very challenging, but what is even tougher is running a business.

Most small businesses are faced with liquidity crunches. They are required to make payments for raw materials, overheads and staff before their receivables become due. Such businesses have not earned the confidence to ask their suppliers for a lengthy credit period. On the other hand, their customers are able to demand 30, 60 or 90 days before the invoice becomes due.

In such a scenario, small businesses find themselves at the mercy of large banks to raise short-term loans. Here are some challenges that SMEs face while applying for a short term business loan.

Estimating the Money Required: If a business underestimates the amount of money required, it would find itself unable to implement projects, execute orders, retain employees and/or realize its expansion plans. On the other hand, if a business secures a loan amount that is significantly higher than its requirements, it would be taking on an interest burden that is not justified by its bottom-line. Taking the right amount of loan can help the SME adequately address the working capital need without having a surplus or lack of funds.

Applying to Traditional Banks: Most entrepreneurs do not have the funds to invest in their businesses and keep it running for a couple of years. Borrowing from friends and family can also be tricky or simply not an option. In such scenarios, small businesses often turn to traditional financial institutions to raise short-term loans. However, these loans have a very time consuming and complex application process. There is plenty of paperwork involved. The business has to present financials in a predetermined format with supporting documents and detailed projections.

Loan Approval: The process of loan approval can be long and complicated. Banks may take several months to even reject a loan application. Mostly, loans are provided only against collateral, which the business owner may not have. Even then, lenders would conduct a thorough analysis of the financial standing of the small business. The lenders would verify all the information provided by the applicant and this takes a long time, during which the liquidity problem of the business continues to worsen. Therefore, such loans may not even be a viable option for short-term, working capital requirements.

Repayment of Loans: Most short-term business loans from traditional financial institutions have a fixed repayment schedule that is in no way linked to the cycle of receivables of the small business. Moreover, they do not allow prepayment of loans. Thus, these businesses would need to continue to bear the interest rate burden, even if it has the funds to repay the loan.

Against the backdrop of these inherent problems with securing short-term finance, technology has helped offer relief from severe liquidity crunches. FinTech companies like Capital Float rely on cutting-edge technology to offer innovative products that are aligned to the requirements and nature of small businesses. Here are some points to keep in mind while applying for a short term business loan.

Easy Application Process: The application can be sent online via a form that takes around 10 minutes to be filled. The borrower can digitally upload all the required documents.

Fast Loan Approval: The use of powerful algorithms allows Capital Float to approve or reject an application within minutes. Thus, a small business does not need to wait for several months to receive a response. Once an application has been approved, the short-term business loan is disbursed within 72 hours.

No Collateral, No Guarantor: Loans offered by Capital Float do not require small businesses to put up any collateral. Unlike traditional lenders, there is no requirement of a guarantor to validate the loan request.

Loans Designed to Suit Their Purpose: Probably the best news is that the finance products offered by Capital Float take into account the specific requirements and nature of small businesses. For instance, the Term Finance product has been designed specifically for manufacturers, traders and distributors, while the Online Seller Finance product is perfect for businesses that operate on online marketplaces. The Taxi Finance product is meant for companies that are part of the booming radio taxi business in India. Merchant Cash Advance is a loan against card receivables and Supply Chain Finance is finance against invoices from blue-chip companies.

Repayment of Loans: The repayment of loans offered by Capital Float either be in correlation to the receivables of the business or may be in the form of flexible weekly instalments. Moreover, there are no pre-closure charges, like those applied by banks and other lending institutions.

Small-term business loans are a highly effective way to finance business cash needs. However, one needs to calculate the amount carefully and then identify the right financing institute and the right product. A small business needs to opt for customized products that suit their individual requirements and offer flexible repayment options. The innovative short-term finance options available today allow small businesses to continue their daily operations without disruption and gives these enterprises confidence to grow without apprehension.

Oct 24, 2018