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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How You Can Improve Your Cash Flows With Supply Chain Finance?

SMEs are sometimes cash-crunched to provide credit to their customers. These customers often ask for 30-60-90 day credit after raising an invoice. Due to the absence of negotiating power, SMEs are often arm-twisted into accepting delays in payment. The gap in cash flows resulting from delayed receipts affects the performance of a company and its ability to run smoothly.

Such situations can now be easily avoided by using Supply Chain Finance, which allows a business to raise the necessary funds by using its receivables. Read on to know more about how supply chain financing can be a powerful tool for boosting the cash flows of your business.

When is Supply Chain Invoicing Needed?

Businesses offer a credit period to customers after executing an order and raising an invoice, since this helps them establish a stronger relationship with customers, build customer loyalty and receive recurring orders. While on one hand, SMEs need to deal with delayed payments from clients, they do not have the negotiating power to delay payments to their suppliers. Moreover, they need funds to make overhead payments and provide salaries to their employees. Even the most profitable SMEs may face cash crunches due to the time lag between having to incur expenses and actually receiving payments from clients.

If not fulfilled in time, this shortage of funds can weaken the smooth functioning of the business. This is where supply chain invoicing for small businesses comes to the rescue. The invoices are like an asset for a business, and can be used to overcome cash flow issues. Supply chain invoicing uses the accounts receivables of a business as a means to increase liquidity.

Invoice Factoring Versus Supply Chain Invoicing

There are two ways in which a business can use its invoices to infuse cash into its operations: invoice factoring and supply chain invoicing. With invoice factoring, a business sells its outstanding invoices, often at a significant discount, to a third party. Supply chain invoicing allows a business to use its outstanding invoices as collateral to secure a loan. Often businesses do not prefer invoice factoring since they do not like the idea of a third party contacting their clients to recover an invoice. This can have a bad impact on the relationship between an SME and its customers.

Supply Chain Invoicing for Small Business 

If a small business has outstanding invoices, it can use these to inject cash into its operations. Capital Float’s Supply Chain Finance product does exactly that. The best news is that the benefits do not end there.

Fast Loans: For any business, especially an SME, timing of receiving funds is critical. Using cutting-edge technology, FinTech companies like Capital Float are able to meet the most urgent working capital needs of small businesses. In fact, the Supply Chain Finance product uses data-driven criteria to approve a loan within hours and disburse the sanctioned funds within just three days.

Convenient Application: One does not need to visit a financial institution and stand in any queues to apply for supply chain invoicing from a FinTech lender. One can apply online, at any time and from anywhere. With such options available, an SME can say goodbye to the hassles of obtaining a loan from a traditional bank. The application process for Supply Chain Finance is so smooth and easy that one can complete the application form even while traveling from home to the workplace. What’s more, Capital Float has a mobile app that makes the application process even easier. The complete process involves filling up a form and uploading the required documents, which takes less than ten minutes.

High Loan Amounts: An SME can receive as much as ₹1 crore to inject into its business. From as low as ₹1 lakh to as high as ₹1 crore can be secured to be used as working capital or to fund the growth of a business. An SME can borrow as much as 90% of the value of the outstanding invoices. One can use the supply chain finance calculator to get an idea of the amount the business can borrow.

Flexible Loan Tenure: With Supply Chain Finance, one can have a repayment plan between 30 – 180 days. The greatest feature is the one time bullet repayment option, which allows a business to repay the loan in one go, thus reducing the interest burden. Else, the business can repay the loan in easy monthly instalments.

Minimum Documentation: In order to Apply for Supply Chain Finance, a business would need digital copies of only a few documents. These include audited financials for the past couple of years, VAT returns and bank documents for the past six months, KYC documents of the business owner and the SME, invoices for the last three months and sales ledger for the last six months.

Do you raise invoices and then need to wait weeks or months for clients to pay? Did you know your cash requirements could be met with supply chain financing?

Now a business can secure the required financing without pledging any assets. The invoices are all that a business needs to infuse cash immediately into its operations. Revolutionary products like Capital Float’s Supply Chain Finance have helped solve the cash flow problems of many businesses. Moreover, being technology driven, there is complete transparency in the fees for this service. There are no hidden costs in acquiring this loan product.

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Why Merchant Cash Advance is an ideal finance option for SMEs

An increasing number of businesses in India, even the smaller ones, are beginning to accept payments for their products and services via credit cards. The acceptance of credit card payments is not only convenient but also a boon for these units, as the same can be used to get short-term funding or advances from funding agencies. A merchant cash advance, as the name suggests, is a cash advance to merchants against their future credit card payment receivables.

Merchant cash advance is a relatively new form of funding in India for small businesses that need fast access to cash and have an established credit card transaction history. Widely used in the US and Canada for several years now, this type of lending is a convenient and easy method of raising funds. It’s not really a loan, rather an advance payment against the future income of a business. Merchant cash advance loans are an ideal solution for small businesses and entrepreneurs who lack adequate organized funding and often resort to borrowing from friends, family or unorganized lenders. They are emerging as an optimum solution for meeting the funding requirements of businesses with a regular income received via credit cards.

SMEs and Funding Options

A majority of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) today operate with cash cycles of 60 days or more, but options for getting working capital finance are severely limited. Although the SME segment plays a key role in India’s economic growth, these enterprises suffer on account of inadequate funding options and thus resort to high interest loans from the informal segment.

Recent years have, however, witnessed the development of innovative products by non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and micro lenders to fill the funding gap in the SME segment. Merchant cash advance is one such product that aims to help small businesses garner the necessary working capital by way of advances against the future income of a business.

Merchant Cash Advance: A Simple and Convenient Product

A merchant cash capital provider would give you a lump-sum amount, which is paid off automatically when they take a percentage of your daily credit card receipts. Since the repayment is linked to credit card receipts, this funding option is suitable for businesses that have a significant portion of their income via the credit card receipts. These include restaurant owners, online shopping sites, merchants and service providers.

The rate at which repayments are made or the retrieval rate can vary from 5% to 20% of the credit card receipts of a business. This retrieval rate is decided on the basis of the amount of advance, the quantum of sales via credit cards and the repayment period. Another important feature of this type of funding is that repayment begins immediately after the receipt of the funds with the total duration of the advance ranging between 180 and 360 days.

The amount of advance that a small business can get is determined by its average credit card sales. A merchant advance provider generally reviews your income inflow over the past six months to determine the advance amount that you can get. The funds provider generally ties up with the credit card payment processors with a predetermined percentage of the merchant’s credit card sales being transferred to the lender directly. The time taken to repay this advance is dependent on the percentage of credit card sales being given to the finance provider. The higher the percentage, the shorter is the time it would take to repay the advance.

Why Opt for a Merchant Cash Advance?

There are several reasons that make a merchant cash advance a preferred funding option for small businesses with high credit card transactions. These include:

1. Easy to Apply: It is very easy to apply for a merchant cash advance. All you need to do is to fill an online application form and upload the required supporting documents like your tax returns, bank account statements and credit card processing statements.

2. Quick Processing: Fund providers like Capital Float that rely heavily on cutting-edge technology take a decision within a few hours and deliver the funds within a few days. This is highly beneficial for businesses that require quick cash to cover unexpected business expenses.

3. Perfect Credit Score Not the Criteria: A merchant cash advance is sanctioned solely on the basis of the credit card receipts of a business and their consistency, without assigning too much importance paid to the credit score of an individual or business.

4. Unsecured Loans: A merchant cash advance is an unsecured loan that can be obtained without mortgaging any asset. No collateral is required and the focus is the future income.

5. Flexible Repayment: Since the repayment amount is a specific percentage of your credit card sales during a month, you are not overburdened or under pressure to pay more even during a lean period for your business or when your business is going through a rough patch and the sales are not up to the mark.

6. High Limits: Advance fund providers generally offer a higher borrowing limit than banks since they take their decisions on the basis of your future income.

7. No Impact on Credit Report: Since merchant cash capital is actually a sales transaction, it does not get reflected in the credit record of the business or the business owner.

A word of caution before you decide to take a merchant cash advance for funding your working capital needs. The cost of this type of funding may be higher than the loans taken from banks because the repayment is dependent on the factor rate of your advance. This factor rate is multiplied by the amount of advance to derive the total amount to be repaid. You can reap the benefits of merchant cash advance loans to fund your working capital needs by negotiating a lower holdback percentage. Although this will increase the repayment duration, it will help you minimize the cost.

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Successfull business tips in 2017: way to grow

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