How will the GST Impact Financial Services Sector in India?

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been the biggest tax reform in India since 1947. Analysts also expect that it will have a huge impact on various sectors of the Indian economy, especially the service sector. Of the segment comprising banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), the fund-related, fee-based and insurance services will witness significant impact as a result of GST implementation and will see shifts from the way they had been operating earlier.

What is really implied by financial services?

The term ‘financial services’ has not been specifically defined by the GST law. However, to understand the implications of this tax on the financial services sector, we need to consider the supply of goods and services that involve the extension of credit support. These services include but are not limited to:

– Loans
– Lease
– Hire purchase
– Conditional sales
– Securitisation or assignment of receivables
– Acquisition or sale of shares and securities

The compliance towards GST can take some effort in the above fields because of the nature of operations conducted by banks and NBFCs concerning credit products, lease transactions, hire purchase, actionable claims and other funds and non-funds-based services.

The GST rate on banking services and services provided by the NBFCs has been raised from 15% to 18% with the execution of this reform from July 01, 2017 onwards. The GST impact on financial services may further be classified into the following sub-sections:

1. Network of branches to be registered separately

Before the implementation of GST, a bank or NBFC with operations spread across India could discharge its compliance on service tax through one ‘centralised’ registration. After GST regulation, these institutions will be required to get a separate tax registration for each of the states they work in.

As a destination-based tax, GST has a multi-stage collection system. In such a mechanism, the tax is collected at each stage and the credit of tax that was paid at the last stage is available as a set off at the subsequent stage of the transaction. This transfers the tax incidence to different entities more evenly, and helps the industry through improved cash flows and better working capital management.

2. Leveraged and de-leveraged Input Tax Credit 

Earlier, banks and NBFCs had been majorly opting for the reversal of 50% of the Central Value Added Tax (CENVAT) credit that they avail against the inputs and input services, while the CENVAT credit on the capital goods was given without any reversal conditions. Under GST, the 50% of the CENVAT credit that was availed for inputs, input services and capital goods has been reversed. This leaves banks and NBFCs with a decreased credit of 50% on capital goods, and in turn raises the cost of capital.

However, this can be counterbalanced by the advantages posed by operating one’s business in the new taxation scenario. A unified domestic market can help with more opportunities for expansion and reduced production costs enhancing one’s profitability.

3. Evaluation and adjudication 

The impact of GST on banking services and NBFCs will also be felt in terms of evaluation procedures. Service tax was assessed by the particular regulators in the state where a branch is registered. In addition, every registered branch of the concerned bank or NBFC had to validate its position for the chargeability in the respective state and provide a reason for utilising the input tax credit in various states.

The GST assessment will involve more than one assessing authority, and each of them may have a different judgement for the same underlying issue. Although such contradictions can prolong the decision-making process for the financial institutions, the adverse effects of evaluation by one authority can be offset through decisions made by another assessor.

Impact of GST on banking sector – General services 

Banks in India have been levying service tax on most transactions enabled by their systems. These include but are not limited to digital fund transfers, issuance of ATM cards and chequebooks, and ATM withdrawals beyond a specific limit. With GST on financial services, these services will be taxed at the rate of 18% instead of the 15% service tax rate that was being charged earlier. For example, if you withdraw money from an ATM other than your bank’s ATM after exceeding the “free transaction limit”, you are typically charged Rs 20 plus a service tax, which comes to around Rs 23. With the imposition of GST, this amount will go up to Rs 23.60.

However, deeper analysis reveals that such an increase in cost should not be considered a negative GST impact on financial services sector. In the long run, banks will be able to transfer the advantage of input tax credit – enabled under GST – to the customers. Furthermore, services like fixed deposits (FDs) and other bank account deposits that were outside the circle of service tax will continue to remain outside the GST ambit.

A major advantage of GST on financial services and other sectors is that it is a transparent tax and has reduced the number of indirect taxes. It integrates different taxes and ensures that the tax burden is fairly divided between different entities involved in the system. In addition, GST is essentially technology based. The advanced software systems used in its calculation and filing works will reduce the chances of manual errors and will lead to better decision making.

Capital Float too experiences the effect of GST on banking and NBFCs. We find ourselves in the 18% tax bracket, and we maintain our statutory lending policies including low-interest rates and quick disbursement of funds. Taking into account the GST impact on financial services sector, Capital Float will continue to provide the best credit solutions to its clients, customized to adapt to the changes brought by GST on SMEs in various sectors.

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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.

Oct 24, 2018