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Difference Between VAT and GST: A Comprehensive Overview

Difference Between VAT and GST: A Comprehensive Overview

In India, the indirect taxation structures of service tax, VAT, and excise duty have been eclipsed by the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax or GST. The main cause of this is the removal of taxes' cascading effect on the economy. Value Added Tax, or VAT for short, is a state-level tax levied on products sold at the time the sale invoice is prepared or the goods are moved for sale. 


Table of Contents


What is VAT: Understanding the Basics

On April 1st, 2005, the Value Added Tax (VAT) was incorporated into the Indian tax system as an indirect value added tax. A commodity is subject to a value-added tax (VAT), which is a consumption tax, at any stage of the supply chain, from manufacturing to sale. The cost of the product less any previously taxable costs of the products utilised in it determines how much VAT the customer must pay.

Sales Tax was superseded by VAT as a taxing concept. To create a single, integrated market in India, VAT was established. It was, nevertheless, introduced at the state level. Except for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands, all of India's states and union territories went into effect for Value Added Tax (VAT) on June 2, 2014. Central Sales Tax, or CST, was levied on supplies made across state lines. The Central Government levies products on sale, and CST is applicable. The state where the tax is collected is the one who collects and holds onto it. 

What is GST: Knowing How It Works

The novel and highly developed "one nation, one tax" concept is embodied in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) of India. The main problems with the VAT regime, such as the cascading impact tax, which is a tax imposed on a product at each stage of the sale, were eliminated with the introduction of this taxing system. The tax on the previously paid tax was then due from the final customer. 

Owing to a number of issues with our previous tax system, including double taxation, increased consumer burden, and numerous procedural requirements at different levels, the Indian government decided to do away with all multiple tax requirements and implement a single tax system known as the Good and Service Tax for all indirect taxes. Value-added tax, or VAT, is one tax that is still applied to some important goods and services even though GST has supplanted several state-level levies.

Benefits of GST Implementation

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was created to be a single, all-inclusive, destination-based taxing model that harmonises revenue collection across the nation. The GST has completely changed how taxes are paid in India. The idea of "tax on tax" is something that GST aims to further eradicate.  The benefits of its implementation include:

  • Elimination of the tax's cascading effect 

  • Easy online registration, filing, and refunding processes

  • Simpler processes and forms for small taxpayers to complete

  • Fewer compliance concerns

  • Specific guidelines for e-commerce businesses 

  • Enhanced efficiency in logistics

  • Uniform rates of indirect taxes throughout India

VAT vs. GST: A Detailed Overview

The following table highlights the differences between VAT and GST:

VAT vs. GST: A Detailed Overview

Calculation of VAT and GST

Even though prominent economists claim that GST and VAT are just two names for the same tax, there is a difference that may be seen upon close examination. The distinction between GST and VAT computation is elucidated in the example that follows.

Illustration 1: VAT System 

Assume that the consultant charged Rs. 1,00,000 in professional tax for services given. Consequently, the same will have an output taxable liability of Rs. 1,00,000 x 12% = Rs. 15,000. At that moment, paying 5% in value added tax on office supplies purchased for Rs. 30,000 would come to Rs. 1500 (Rs. 30,000 x 5%). In this instance, the entire sum of Rs. 16,500 (Rs. 15,000 + Rs. 1500) must be paid since it is not possible to reduce the tax paid on supplies from the output tax payable on services provided under the VAT system.

Illustration 2: GST System

Let's say the consultant invoiced Rs. 1,00,000 for services and collected 18% professional tax. Hence, the same will have an output taxable liability of Rs. 1,00,000 x 18% = Rs. 18,000. Paying 5% as GST on office goods costing Rs. 30,000 will come to Rs. 1500 (30,000 x 5%). In this instance, the tax owed will be Rs. 16,500 (Rs. 18,000 – Rs. 1500) since, in contrast to VAT, GST allows the output tax due on services supplied to be subtracted from the tax paid on supplies. 


Similar consumption taxes, known as GST and VAT, are levied when people buy goods and services. Nonetheless, the two taxes differ in a few significant ways. Whereas VAT is an origin-based tax, GST is a destination-based tax. Whereas VAT is paid to the government of the nation where the goods or services are produced, GST is paid to the government of the country where the products or services are consumed. The Indian economy has benefited greatly from the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). It has improved tax compliance, decreased tax cascading, and streamlined the tax structure. We hope that this post has clarified both ideas and the distinction between GST and VAT.


Q1 . Has VAT been replaced by GST in India?

Major indirect taxes, such as VAT, were absorbed by the introduction of GST. Yet, there is still a lot of VAT on petroleum items, electricity, and alcoholic beverages intended for human consumption. The GST law does not currently apply to these goods.

Q2. Is VAT still applicable in India? 

Even with the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India, VAT is still charged on a number of goods, including petroleum products and alcohol intended for human consumption.

Q3. Which is a better taxation model- VAT or GST?

The GST model was implemented in India to address the intrinsic shortcomings or restrictions of the VAT taxing system. Several indirect taxes on goods and services were in place prior to the introduction of the GST. The idea of "one nation, one tax" gave rise to the GST. The elimination of the tax on tax, often known as the cascading impact of taxing, is one of the main problems that the GST addresses.

Q4. How is the tax calculation between GST and VAT different?

Businesses that use GST are able to balance their tax liability by claiming an input tax credit for taxes paid on purchases, which results in a tax on value addition. At every stage, VAT is computed based on the whole product value, resulting in cumulative taxes without any compensating provisions.

Q5. How does the scope of GST and VAT differ?

Whereas VAT mostly applies to products and frequently taxes services separately, GST includes both goods and services entirely.

Q6. How do GST and VAT have on the final consumer's cost?

The final consumer pays the taxes under both systems, but because GST is generally more efficient and transparent, there may be cost savings because of less cascading effects.

Q7. How does GST simplify compliance compared to VAT?

Compared to traditional VAT systems, GST's unified tax structure, input tax credit, and centralised administration simplify corporate operations and ease tax compliance.

Q8. Does GST eliminate the cascading effect of tax present in VAT?

By enabling companies to claim credit for taxes paid on inputs, the GST's input tax credit mechanism lowers tax cascading and creates a more effective tax system.

Q9. How is GST better than VAT?

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was created to be a single, all-inclusive, destination-based taxing model that harmonises revenue collection across the nation. The GST has completely changed how taxes are paid in India. The idea of "tax on tax" is something that GST aims to further eradicate.  

Q10. How does VAT differ from GST in terms of taxation structure?

VAT (Value Added Tax) is a state-level tax levied on the value added at each stage of production or distribution, whereas GST (Goods and Services Tax) is a unified tax levied on the supply of goods and services at the national level.

Q11. What are the income tax implications of VAT and GST?

VAT is not directly related to income tax, as it is a consumption tax collected by the state governments. However, GST impacts various aspects of income tax, including input tax credit, compliance, and indirect tax management.

Q12. How do VAT and GST differ in terms of compliance requirements?

VAT compliance involves filing returns and maintaining records as per state-specific regulations, while GST compliance is standardized across the country with centralized registration, returns, and input tax credit mechanisms.

Q13. Are there any income tax sections specifically related to VAT or GST?

While there are no specific income tax sections for VAT, GST compliance may impact income tax calculations, deductions, and provisions related to input tax credit under the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Q14. Do businesses need to transition from VAT to GST?

Yes, businesses were required to transition from VAT to GST when GST was introduced in India in July 2017. The transition involved registration under GST, migration of tax credits, and compliance with GST regulations.

Q15 . How do VAT and GST impact the pricing of goods and services?

VAT is typically applied at each stage of production or distribution, leading to a cascading effect on prices, while GST is a value-added tax with input tax credit mechanisms, allowing for the elimination of cascading effects, ultimately affecting consumer prices.

Q16. What are the thresholds for VAT and GST registration?

VAT registration thresholds vary from state to state in India, based on the turnover of the business, whereas GST registration is mandatory for businesses with a turnover exceeding specified thresholds (e.g., ₹20 lakhs for goods, ₹10 lakhs for northeastern states) under Section 22 of the CGST Act.

Q17. How do VAT and GST impact interstate transactions?

VAT applies to intra-state transactions, with different VAT rates in different states, while GST is a destination-based tax that applies uniformly across states for both intra-state and inter-state transactions, governed by IGST (Integrated Goods and Services Tax) under Section 5 of the IGST Act.

Q18. Are there any exemptions or zero-rated supplies under VAT and GST?

VAT may exempt certain goods or provide concessional rates, varying by state, while GST has provisions for zero-rated supplies (exports and certain supplies to SEZs) under Section 16 of the IGST Act, where no tax is levied on the output, but input tax credit is available.

Q19 . How do VAT and GST impact the compliance burden for businesses?

VAT compliance involves dealing with multiple state authorities and varying regulations, while GST compliance streamlines processes with centralized registration, return filing, and uniform tax rates, reducing compliance burdens for businesses.

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