Important GST Definitions, Terms and Glossary

The GST is ready for implementation and brings with it a slew of changes that indirect tax payers and business owners need to get familiar with. Not only are businesses required to register themselves under the GSTN, they must also reassess their business in accordance with certain new terminologies to determine how the GST impacts them. A few of the important GST definitions and the registration process are briefly specified here to help you get started.

GST terms to know 

Certain essential definitions have been mentioned under the Model GST Law, which was first released in June, 2016, and then modified and released again in November, 2016.

Business : Definition: Business refers to trade, commerce, manufacture, profession, vocation or any other similar activity, including transactions related or incidental thereto, irrespective of volume or frequency, as well as supply of goods/ services in connection with commencement or closure of business.

The definition is quite wide and seems to be borrowed from State VAT legislations. Some parts have been modified to include transactions in services.

Place of Business : Definition: (a) A place from where the business is ordinarily carried on, and includes a warehouse, a godown or any other place where a taxable person stores his goods. (b) A place where a taxable person maintains his books of account. (c) A place where a taxable person is engaged in business through an agent.

Since GST is a destination-based indirect taxation system, the place of business is a critical factor in determining the business model and taxation dues of a business that is present in many places.

Time of Supply : Definition: The time of supply is the earlier of the following dates: (a) Date of issue of invoice by the supplier or the last day by which the supplier is required to issue invoice or (b) Date of receipt of payment.

The time of supply is important since it determines the point of taxation i.e. the point in time when goods / services have been deemed to be supplied or services have been deemed to be provided and hence SGST or IGST apply.

Goods : Definition: “Goods” refers to every kind of movable property other than money and securities, but includes actionable claim, growing crops, grass and things attached to or forming part of the land which are agreed to be severed before supply or under a contract of supply.

While the term “movable property” has been mentioned, it has not been defined in the Model GST Law, and one needs to refer to the General Clauses Act 1897 for this. It does not include intangible property such as intellectual property rights (copyrights, trademarks). Also, an item needs to be movable for it to be classified as goods.

Services : Definition: “Services” means anything other than goods.

The GST Model Law clarifies that services include intangible property and actionable claims but does not include money. There are separate definitions for supply of software, works contracts and leasing transactions, even though they fall in the ambit of services. The inclusion of “actionable claim” may create confusion where financial and commercial transactions are involved.

Software includes the development, design, programming, customisation, adaptation, upgradation, enhancement, implementation of information technology software, and is treated as a service.

As far as leasing transactions are concerned, a finance lease would be considered as supply of goods, and an operating lease would be considered as a service under the Model GST Law,

Works Contract : Definition: It is an agreement for carrying on building, construction, fabrication, erection, installation, fitting out, improvement, modification, repair, renovation or commissioning of any moveable or immovable property. Work Contract has been defined as a “Service”, simplifying its taxation procedure.

Supply : The GST has three new definitions related to “Supply”, i.e., Principal Supply, Composite Supply and Mixed Supply.

1. Principal Supply
Definition: It is the supply of goods or services which constitutes the predominant element of a composite supply and to which any other supply forming part of that composite supply is ancillary and does not constitute, for the recipient an aim in itself, but a means for better enjoyment of the principal supply.
It is generally the dominant supply in a bundle of supplies or a bundle of services. For example, in a mobile phone and the charger, the mobile phone will be the principal supply.

2. Composite Supply
Definition: a supply made by a taxable person to a recipient comprising two or more supplies of goods or services, or any combination thereof, which are naturally bundled and supplied in conjunction with each other in the ordinary course of business, one of which is a principal supply.

For example, goods packed with insurance and packing material is a composite supply, with the good being the principal supply. Here, there is a main supply and supporting supply, which normally go together in the course of business and enhance the enjoyment of the main supply.

3. Mixed Supply
Definition: Two or more individual supplies of goods or services, or any combination thereof, made in conjunction with each other by a taxable person for a single price where such supply does not constitute a composite supply.

Take the case of a corporate gift pack that consists of a tie, a wallet and a pen. These are bundled in a package supplied for a single price. None of the items is dependent on the other, nor necessary to be purchased together. This is a case of a mixed supply, where the individual items, which can also be sold separately, are sold together.

Aggregate Turnover : Definition: “aggregate turnover” means the aggregate value of all taxable supplies (excluding the value of inward supplies on which tax is payable by a person on reverse charge basis), exempt supplies, exports of goods or services or both and inter-State supplies of persons having the same Permanent Account Number, to be computed on all India basis but excludes central tax, State tax, Union territory tax, integrated tax and cess.

Reverse charge tax is a system where the recipient of the supply (goods and services), i.e. the client, is liable to pay the tax. Inward supplies are input supplies used as an input for manufacturing the goods or providing the service. Tax paid on input expenses can be adjusted against tax paid on output supplies, through input tax credit. This means that it cannot be treated as a part of the aggregate turnover.

Read more about GST at our GST blog for India.

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Coding Guidelines: Programmer’s Daily Bread and Butter

As we work in startup, we are under time pressure to release a lot of new features on time, features which do not have well defined requirements and the complexity of those features is often underestimated and we end up taking a lot of shortcuts / adding hacks to release such time sensitive features.

This may work for a short time, but over the period of time we realize that the same shortcuts that you took to release features quickly are now slowing you down. You can not scale and add new features on top of it, even if you do, they become quite unstable. In this situation you might want to take a step back and revamp/refactor you base system.

One of the easiest things that you can do to avoid this situation is follow coding guidelines.

Coding Standards

Well, what according to you is a good code? The simple definition could be: if it can’t be understood, maintained and extended by other developers then its definitely not a good code. The computer doesn’t care whether your code is readable. It’s better at reading binary machine instructions than it is at reading high-level-language statements. You write readable code because it helps other developers to read your code.

Naming conventions:

As the name suggests, it is a simple concept where you follow a specific naming conventions across teams. This becomes important when your team is growing and are solving problems on daily basis and pushing a lot of code every day.

camelcases vs underscore

This helps a lot when your team becomes big and a lot of developers are working on the same code-base. If you follow some fixed patterns while defining classes/functions/variables names, it becomes really easy for fellow colleagues to understand your code. This directly impacts delivery time taken by a developer to build/modify a feature on top of existing code. For example, let us suppose you want to define a time-stamp field in a database table, how would you name it ? If you have a fixed pattern like a “action_ts” or “action_at” for giving names then you can easily guess what could be the field name in the schema. If its a created time-stamp then it could be either “created_at” or “created_ts”. You do not have to go and check every-time you writing any logic over different database tables.

Function/Module/API writing (Size and Purpose)

Simplicity and readability counts. It’s always better to write to concise code than a messier one so that if any other developer is also looking at it who has no idea, should get what exactly it is doing. Not more than max 10–15 lines. Jenkins is considered as one of the greatest implementations, and has average function length of 2 lines.

A function/module should only do ONE thing and should do it NICELY. By following this, code becomes modular and it helps a lot in debugging. You can solve the problem better and debug faster when you know where exactly it’s coming.

When you are developing features over an established products, more than 50% times, new requirements are of the nature which you can build on top of existing code. In such cases, you can ship those requirements really faster and stable if existing code-base is modular and stable. Writing library functions a savior. There are countless advantages of writing a library code. It avoids code repetition, no surprises when it comes to response formats and of-course code re-usability.

Exception/Error Handling

Unknown errors are real pain in developers life. It’s always better if you know probable exceptions and errors in code in advance. But that is not the case always. Irrespective of all this, you definitely do not want your end-users to see unexpected errors on their screens.

When you have different micro-services and bigger development teams, if you follow standard response formats for across APIs and standard exceptions then there will not be any surprises in production. You can agree upon one format across all the services. Every API can have certain ‘response_data’ and standard set of error-codes. Every Exception will have an error-code and a message. Message could have variation viz, tech specific message and user facing message.

Writing test cases:

If you want to have a good night sleep, then you better have thorough test cases covering almost all aspects of your code. The best way forward with building test cases is at requirement stage only. Whenever a requirement comes, products managers discuss it with developers as well as QA. Both teams start preparing for possible use-cases and test-cases.

A testing unit should focus on one tiny bit of functionality and prove it correct. Each test unit must be fully independent. Each test must be able to run alone, and also within the test suite, regardless of the order that they are called. The implication of this rule is that each test must be loaded with a fresh data-set and may have to do some cleanup afterwards.

Automation plays an important role here. What else is needed for stable product where you have all test cases covered and running at intervals automatically, giving you a report of the all functionalities. Also, whenever you are adding/modifying code, you make sure either you write new test cases or modify existing ones.

coding

Code Reviews:

This one thing save lives, trust me! Every team can benefit from code reviews regardless of development methodology. Initially it takes time if you do not have a procedure setup of doing code reviews, but eventually it becomes a habit. Code review should be one of the core development steps.

Code review generally is about:

  • Does the new code conform to existing style guidelines?
  • Does the written piece of code covers all the use-cases specified in the requirements and has relevant test cases written ?
  • Are the new automated tests sufficient for the new code? Do existing automated tests need to be rewritten to account for changes in the code?

There are several advantages of this process such as –

Code reviews make for better estimates: Estimation is a team exercise, and the team makes better estimates as product knowledge is spread across the team. As new features are added to the existing code, the original developer can provide good feedback and estimation. In addition, any code reviewer is also exposed to the complexity, known issues, and concerns of that area of the code base. The code reviewer, then, shares in the knowledge of the original developer of that part of the code base.

Code reviews mentor new joiners: Code reviews help facilitate conversations about the code base between team members. During these conversations, team members share their views and new alternatives of doing things.

Code reviews take time: It’s an incremental process, where it takes time initially but as your code-base grows, it ensures, you are always pushing verified and tested code.

Hidden truth about code reviews: When developers know their code will be reviewed by a teammate, they make an extra effort to ensure that all tests are passing and the code is as well-designed as they can make it so the review will go smoothly. That mindfulness also tends to make the coding process itself go smoother and, ultimately, faster.

As a fast growing company our self, these set of guidelines have helped us a lot in shipping stable features on time and helping to increase a healthy learning environment.

Source:- Capital Float’s Medium Blog

Oct 24, 2018

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GST Rates Revised for 27 Goods and 12 Services

GST Rate Revisions as on 6 October 2017

Good/Service Present GST Rate Revised GST Rate
Duty credit scrips 5%  Nil
Mangoes sliced dried  12%  5%
Khakra and plain chapati / roti
Namkeens other than those put up in unit container and, –
(a)bearing a registered brand name; or
(b) bearing a brand name on which an actionable claim or enforceable right in a court of law is available [other than those where any actionable claim or enforceable right in respect of such brand name has been foregone voluntarily
Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy medicines, other than those bearing a brand name
Paper waste or scrap
Real Zari
Food preparations put up in unit containers and intended for free distribution to  economically  weaker sections of the society under a  programme duly approved by the Central Government or any State Government, subject to specified conditions  18%  5%
Plastic waste, parings or scrap
Rubber  waste, parings or scrap
Cullet or other waste or Scrap of Glass
Biomass briquettes
Hard Rubber waste or scrap 28% 5%
Sewing thread of manmade filaments, whether or not put up for retail sale  18%  12%
All synthetic filament yarn, such as nylon, polyester, acrylic, etc.
All artificial filament yarn, such as viscose rayon, cuprammonium
Sewing thread of manmade staple fibres
Yarn of manmade staple fibres
Poster Colour  28%  18%
Modelling paste for children amusement
All goods falling under heading 6802 [other than those of marble and granite or those which attract 12% GST]
Fittings for loose-leaf binders or files, letter clips, letter corners, paper clips, indexing tags and similar office articles, of base metal; staples in strips (for example, for offices, upholstery, packaging), of base metal
Plain Shaft Bearing
Parts suitable for use solely or principally with fixed Speed Diesel Engines of power not exceeding 15HP
Parts suitable for use solely or principally with power driven pumps primarily designed for handling water, namely, centrifugal pumps (horizontal and vertical), deep tube-well turbine pumps, submersible pumps, axial flow and mixed flow vertical pumps
E-Waste 28%/18% 5%
Imposing GST only on the net quantity of superior kerosene oil [SKO] retained for the manufacture of Linear Alkyl Benzene [LAB] 18% 18% (Clarification to be issued)

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Oct 24, 2018

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Taxes Subsumed under GST & the Components of GST

With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) set to roll out on July 01, 2017, expectations and anxieties are high with individual taxpayers and businesses trying to gear up for a brand new tax regime.

Components of GST

To be able to make the most of the new indirect taxation law, taxpayers need to understand its components well.

The GST Council which was set up by the Central Government to execute GST implementation, has proposed a new tax framework-structure for GST.

First and foremost, GST represents a “One Nation, One Tax” outlook, which is necessary to do away with multi-tax regimes that lead to inefficiencies such as cascading taxes, levy of excise at the point of manufacturing and lack of uniformity in tax levies. Currently, Goods and Services are taxed under various disparate tax categories such as Excise Duty, VAT or Central Sales Tax, Service Tax (in the case of services dispensed) and Customs Duty (for imports). Some of these taxes are levied by the Central government, and others by the state government. A unified approach— GST— will help do away with these complexities by enabling a single tax regime right from manufacturer to consumer. It is important to know that GST is a destination-based tax i.e., the tax is credited to the taxation authority whose jurisdiction prevails at the place of consumption (also called the place of supply). Moreover, GST will be levied on value-addition, by allowing for input tax credit at each stage of the transaction chain.

GST Structure

GST will have four slabs of indirect taxation: 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%, with goods and services attracting any of these slab percentages depending on various factors such as being a luxury good/service. The current indirect tax structure will give way to a Dual GST model, with the Centre and States simultaneously levying GST on a common tax base, as follows:

  • Central GST Bill (CGST): For intra-state transactions related to supply of goods and/or services, levied by the Centre.
  • State or Union Territory GST Bill (SGST or UTGST): For the supply of goods and/or services in the States and Union Territories, levied by the States/Union Territories.
  • Integrated GST Bill (IGST): For inter-state transactions and imports related to supply of goods and/or services, carried out by the Centre.

Under this structure, the CGST and SGST/UTGST will be levied simultaneously on the same price or value. Here is an example of how this will happen: Consider a steel supplier who manufactures in Jharkhand and supplies steel to another company within Jharkhand. Let us assume the rate of CGST to be 10% and SGST to be 7% and the selling price of the steel to be Rs. 100. The supplier will charge the client a CGST of Rs 10 and SGST of Rs 7. The supplier needs to deposit Rs 10 in his Centre taxation account, and Rs. 7 in the State taxation account. Due to input credit facility, the supplier has the option of setting off the total payment (Rs 17) against the tax he paid on his purchases or inputs. However, these credit values cannot be mixed—for CGST-setoffs he can utilize only the CGST credit; for SGST-setoffs he can utilize only SGST credit.

Dual GST

A Dual-GST is particularly suitable for the Indian economy because in India both the Centre and States are assigned the duty of levying and collecting taxes. So far, the Constitution clearly demarcated the tax levying and collection duties of the Centre and State, with the Centre responsible for taxing the manufacture of goods, and the State responsible for taxing the sale of goods. For services, only the Centre was allowed to levy Service Tax. To override this segregation of power, and enable the smooth implementation of GST, a Constitutional amendment (Constitution Act, 2016) was made so as to simultaneously empower the Centre and the States to levy and collect this tax. With this amendment, the Dual GST regime will now align well with the fiscal federal protocols of India.

Taxes subsumed under GST

The following are the disparate taxes (levied by the Centre and States) which will be subsumed under the new dual-GST regime.

(A) Taxes currently levied and collected by the Centre:

  • Central Excise Duty
  • Duties of Excise (Medicinal and Toilet Preparations)
  • Additional Duties of Excise (Goods of Special Importance)
  • Additional Duties of Excise (Textiles and Textile Products)
  • Additional Duties of Customs (commonly known as CVD)
  • Special Additional Duty of Customs (SAD)
  • Service Tax
  • Central Surcharges and Cesses so far as they relate to supply of goods and services

(B) Taxes currently levied and collected by the States:

  • State VAT
  • Central Sales Tax
  • Luxury Tax
  • Entry Tax (all forms)
  • Entertainment and Amusement Tax (except when levied by the local bodies)
  • Taxes on advertisements
  • Purchase Tax
  • Taxes on lotteries, betting and gambling
  • State Surcharges and Cesses so far as they relate to supply of goods and services

The taxes to be subsumed were decided after intense debate and consideration of some core principles that were in line with the GST ethos. Each tax was first examined to ensure it qualified for indirect taxation and was related to the supply of goods or services. Moreover, a tax which was to be subsumed needed to be part of the transaction chain right from imports through manufacturing to the provision of services and the consumption of goods/services. Another important criteria to allow a tax to be subsumed was that the subsumation should lead to free flow of tax credit at Intra- and inter-State levels. Also, the revenue considerations of both the Centre and the State were taken into perspective while arriving at the final list of subsumed taxes.

Clearly, the change is huge, and the sooner consumers and businesses get familiar with the implications on Term finances, the better they will be equipped to benefit from the new GST reforms.

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Oct 24, 2018