How GST Will impact the Hotel and Travel Industry in India

The hotel industry is one of the fastest growing domains in India, and, together with the travel segment, it was valued at $136.2 billion by the end of 2016. The implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) will help the hotel and travel industry largely by bringing down costs for customers, consolidating the multiple taxes into a single tax value and decreasing transaction costs for concerned business owners. However, certain challenges accompany these outcomes as well.

A look at the conditions pre- and post-GST

Similar to other industries in India, there were multiple taxes applicable to hotel industry. These were chiefly in the form of value added tax (VAT), luxury tax and service tax. For a hotel, if a room’s tariff exceeded Rs 1000, the service tax liability was 15%. With an abatement of 40% allowed on the tariff value, the actual rate of service tax was brought down to 9%. The VAT that ranged between 12% and 14.5%, as well as the luxury tax, was applied over and above this.

The GST impact on hotels and travel industry 

Under the GST regime, the hospitality domain gets the advantage of standardised and uniform tax rates. The utilisation of input tax credit (ITC) has also become simpler and better. Complimentary food (such as offer of breakfast with room) that was separately taxed under VAT will be taxed as a bundled service under the GST system.

As a positive effect of GST for hotels, the end cost to be paid by the final consumers will decrease, which will help to attract more tourists and push up the growth of businesses in this industry. Conversely, it will also increase the revenue collection of the government.

The tax rates under GST for hotel industry have been set as:

Room Tariff Per Day GST Rate
Less than Rs 1000 NIL
Rs 1000 – 2499 12%
Rs 2500 – 7499 18%
More than Rs 7500 28%

Most hotels in India follow a dynamic pricing policy, where they decide upon the tariffs manually as per the number of tourists expected in a certain season. The tariff, therefore, keeps changing according to the demand and supply forces. Since the GST rates vary for different tariff levels, hotels have to ensure that their billing software also changes the tax rate as per the room tariff throughout the distribution channels comprising travel agencies and online aggregators. Making such changes in the billing systems could take some time.

Positive aspects of GST

The Goods and Services Tax has brought some relief for the hospitality industry through:

Ease of administration 

With the implementation of GST, the multiple state and central taxes levied on the tariffs of hotels have been done away with. This has helped to trim down the burden of different procedures of tax application and has resulted in better streamlining of the entire process.
Less confusion for customers

Tourists staying in hotels and availing some special services were largely confused by the multiplicity of taxes in their bills. For most of them, it was difficult to understand the difference between VAT, service tax and luxury tax. Under the GST system, they will see only one consolidated tax on their invoice, which will give them a clearer picture of what they are paying in tariffs and what is the tax charged on them.

Enhanced quality of service 

Many tourists and hotel guests have had the cumbersome experience of waiting in the hotel lobby while their bill was being prepared. It often took longer to add the different tax components and prepare the final version of the bill to be paid by the customer. With GST, the managers have just one tax to calculate and that makes the checking-out process from hotels quicker and simpler.

Ease of using input tax credit

Entities in the hotel and travel industry can now easily claim and get input tax credit. They are entitled to get full ITC (input tax credit) on the inputs that they add. Due to the division of revenue between the centre and state governments, the multiple taxes paid before GST regime on inputs – like cleaning supplies, uncooked edibles for meals – could not be smoothly adjusted against the output. The calculation of ITC will be easier in the GST system.

Negative aspects of GST

The GST for travel industry and hotels also comes with its share of adverse impacts. With a taxation rate of 28%, the hotels charging tariffs over Rs 7500 are worst hit, as their final prices for customers will increase significantly.

Looking at the bigger picture, GST can hit the inflow of foreign tourists to India. Other Asian countries such as Japan and Singapore impose tax rates as low as 8% and 7% on their hotel and travel industry. This can become a big factor in making them more preferred tourist locations as compared to India.

Capital Float looks at GST for hotels and tourism as a mixture of simpler, smoother rules and seemingly higher costs & compliance. The trade associations of hotels and restaurants have been protesting for a lower tax rate of 5%, but it starts at 18% for a majority of them. The value of tourism industry in India is projected to grow by up to $280.5 billion in the next 10 years. How well the positive aspects of GST outweigh its negative effects is yet to be seen. Meanwhile, despite the challenges, the credit support for the development of new hotels and restaurants by an NBFC like Capital Float will continue to be consistent.

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6 things school owners must know before taking a School loan

Lack of adequate finance should not be a constraint when it concerns improving or a running education institution. There are several options in the financial market for school loans that can be procured to upgrade campus infrastructure, buy new equipment for your labs/classrooms, add new facilities for students and staff or any other productive purpose.

How to get loan for school” is no more a concern for prospective borrowers. The availability of multiple alternatives, however, makes it necessary for the borrowers to be aware of certain factors before they settle upon a particular source of funds. Let us look into six of these.

1. Does the loan require collateral?

Loans for private schools may be secured or unsecured. Many banks still ask borrowers for collateral to be pledged as security. While the low interest rate of such school loans may be alluring, the idea of hypothecating a valuable asset to the lender feels distressing. Fortunately, schools that cannot afford secured loans can get collateral-free finance from digitally enabled NBFCs, also known as FinTech companies. A FinTech lender usually does not require collateral, and issues loans based on the borrowers’ creditworthiness.

2. Is there a limit on the minimum loan amount to be taken?

Inflation rates warrant that nothing worth investing is cheap. However, why take a big loan that will entail much interest? FinTech companies keep an adequate range on the issuable loan amount to accommodate the needs of all institutions that want to apply for school loans. There are no rules requiring schools to apply for a large ‘minimum’ amount if they need merely 5-10 lakhs for the planned purpose.

3. What will be the tenure of the loan?

No institution would like to be debt-ridden for long. Payment of total interest is also high on long-term school loans. This is why it is advisable to check the tenure before accepting the funding from any lender. A FinTech company can be very accommodating and can provide a loan that can be paid back in only one year. A loan for educational institutions may also be stretched to three years.

4. What is the interest rate, processing fee and other charges on the loan?

While taking loans for private schools in India, check the interest rate and additional charges upfront. Banks and traditional NBFCs often have low interest, but their processing fee, documentation charges, legal fee, commission and a bunch of other charges may add up to a significant amount. At times, this is also necessary to cover their paper-centric loan approval process. Conversely, FinTechs that have a succinct digital application process charge a processing fee of up to 2.5%.

5. Are there any pre-closure charges?

Whether you are applying for a loan for construction of school building or to buy new equipment for teaching, your earnings may make it possible to pay off the outstanding balance earlier than its tenure. Such an eventuality is usually met with pre-closure penalties. It is advisable to check the rate of this fee before paying off a lump sum. As compared to banks, most FinTech companies have no or low prepayment charges on their loans.

6. How will the loan be repaid?

Along with the repayment charge, it is also good to check the repayment options for school loans. EMIs are the only way to pay off the debts availed from a majority of the traditional lenders. In comparison, FinTechs have flexible repayment options that can be adjusted as per the borrower’s preferences.

Capital Float is a leading FinTech lender for educational institutions in India. Visit https://www.capitalfloat.com/school-finance to know more about our school loans.

Oct 24, 2018

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What Is GST And How To Register For It

India is all set to implement the Goods and Services Tax, or the GST, from July 1, 2017. The intent is to standardise the indirect taxation system in the country, related to the supplies and consumption of goods and services. The new regime is one of the biggest indirect tax reforms pan-India, and one that will directly affect both business owners and consumers to a marked degree. It is thus important to know the whats and hows of the GST rollout.

What is GST?

GST is a new system for indirect taxation. Under this, a new four-tier tax structure has been finalised. Goods and services will be taxed under the slabs of 5%, 12%, 18% or 28%. The highest slab is for luxury items and items such as tobacco. The Union Cabinet has passed four bills for four different categories of tax regimes under the GST, as follows:

Central GST Bill: Applies to the supply of goods and services by the Central government within the boundaries of a state.

Integrated GST Bill: Applies to the supply of goods and services between different states, carried out by the Central Government.

Union Territory GST Bill: Applies to the supply of goods and services in the Union Territories.

The Compensation Bill: An allied bill that will govern the provision of compensation for revenue losses brought on by GST implementation, over a period of five years from implementation.

These four bills together are set to change the tax norms in the country.

Advantages of GST

The GST will prove advantageous at both seller and consumer levels. According to our Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, GST has the potential to boost economic growth by as much as two percentage points. From a business perspective, a number of pros are evident.

Greater compliance: The GST implementation will be reinforced by a backbone of robust IT systems and processes. All taxpayer services will be available online, making tax compliance and operations simple and transparent.

Uniform tax rates: This will ensure that tax structures and rates are common across the country, and will consequently make cross-locational business easier and quicker.

Reduce overlap: Often, a single product, for example, a shirt, being sold is taxed at various stages. With VAT, excise duty and other taxes payable at different stages, payments often roll up to large numbers, posing a cost to the company. The GST will facilitate the removal of different layers of tax levies and will replace them with a single, clear interface.

Cost advantage: Under the GST practice, many local Central and State taxes will be subsumed. At the Central level, the Central Excise Duty, Additional Excise Duty, Service Tax, Countervailing Duty and Special Additional Customs Duty will be subsumed. At the State level, we will see the following getting subsumed: State Value Added Tax or Sales Tax, Entertainment Tax, Octroi, Purchase Tax, and Luxury Tax, to name a few. These measures will reduce the cost of manufactured goods or services, thereby increasing the competitiveness of Indian goods in an increasingly global market.

The end consumer also stands to benefit from the following:

Better tax clarity and planning: Often, consumers are not aware of the taxes that they pay on the purchased goods or services, either due to the confusion caused by multiple indirect taxes or because the tax component is not revealed in the selling price. Such taxes may mask the real cost. GST will help streamline this by having only one tax applied from manufacturer to consumer, enabling tax transparency.

Lesser tax burdens: A single rollout across the nation is bound to bring in efficiency gains. At the same time, a transparent tax process with fewer hidden taxes will help reduce taxes for most commodities, leading to better affordability for the consumer.

The next steps for businesses: Applying for GST

Every business that is currently registered under any existing tax regime has to compulsorily migrate to GST. If your business is not registered under any tax regime, then you have to register for GST only if your aggregate turnover in a financial year exceeds a threshold limit of 20 lakhs liability for payment of tax (10 lakhs for North Eastern states).

If your business is happening inter-state or through e-commerce as an intermediary supplier, then registration is mandatory, even if this threshold limit is not reached. However, note that any casual taxable person or non-resident person is liable to register for GST even if they are not crossing the threshold limit.

Registration/ enrollment for GST is to be completed online under the GST Common Portal https://www.gst.gov.in/ for both taxpayers and businesses. This will be the platform for future filing of returns and tax payments. The government has also appointed GST Suvidha Providers to help with the process. There is no offline process for GST enrolment.

The enrolment is free. In order to log in for the first time into the portal, you must have your username and password that you would have received from the State VAT or Centre Tax Department (these are linked to your PAN). For further logins, create your username and password and begin the enrollment process.

These are the steps to follow for registration:

  1. Fill in Form GST REG-01-Part A, and key in the PAN number, mobile number and email address. The PAN will be verified online while the mobile number and email ID will be verified through the one-time password (OTP).
  2. The applicant will then receive an application reference number along with an acknowledgement of application through FORM GST REG-02.
  3. The applicant must fill the Form GST REG-01-Part B with the applicant’s reference number. The applicant must attach required documents: PAN card, documentation of company such as partnership deed, memorandum of association or incorporation certificate, proof of business such as rent agreement or electricity bill, cancelled cheque of company bank account in the account holder’s name, and proof of key authorised signatories such as list of directors or list of partners with their ID and address proof.
  4. If any additional information is required, the applicant will receive Form GST REG-03 as notification and must fill in and submit Form GST REG-04 within seven days.
  5. On submitting all details correctly, the application will be approved and the applicant will receive their registration certificate, called Form GST REG-06. However, if the application is rejected, Form GST REG-05 is sent to the applicant and they will be required to resubmit an application through Form GST REG-07, only if they need to deduct TDS or collect TCS.

This completes the registration process. It is followed by the issuance of a Provisional Registration Certificate (if approved), and thereafter, a final Registration Certificate that is expected to be issued within six months of the documents being verified by the GST authorities. Remember that different business verticals/locations need to be registered separately, as the registration certificate is generated separately for each.

Currently, the portal states that more than 60 lakh taxpayers have enrolled on the GST Portal between November 08, 2016 and April 30, 2017. Please note that the enrolment process has closed from May 1, 2017, and will reopen at a later date. Visit our GST blog to know more about GST and keep track of latest

Oct 24, 2018

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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