Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Should Petroleum be brought within the ambit of GST?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GST

Mains level : Paper 3- Inclusion of petrol and diesel in GST

The article deals with the issues of demand for the inclusion of fuel oils in the GST regime and its implications for the revenue of the states and the Centre.

How much tax we pay on petrol and diesel

  • The Union and state levies put together account for roughly 55 per cent and 52 per cent of the retail price of petrol and diesel respectively.
  • These work out to around 135 per cent and 116 per cent of the base prices of the two products respectively.
  • The central levy on petrol and diesel works out to around 36 per cent of the retail price while the state component is around 20 per cent (diesel) to 28 per cent (petrol).
  • Of the total central levies on petrol and diesel, Rs 1.40 per litre and Rs 1.80 per litre is the basic excise duty for the two fuels, and Rs 11 per litre and Rs 18 per litre is the special additional excise duty.
  • Both these components form part of the divisible pool of taxes i.e. 42 per cent of which (approximately Rs 52,000 crore) goes to the states.
  • The remaining portion of Rs 18 per litre in both cases is the Road and Infrastructure Cess and Rs 2.50 per litre and Rs 4 per litre is the Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess which are retained by the Centre.

How other countries tax fuel oils

  • Being demerit goods, fuel oils and liquor are almost universally subject to a dual levy by countries that implement any kind of VAT or GST.
  • The levy is a mix of GST at a fixed percentage of the price which qualifies for credit in the value chain and a fixed amount or percentage of the price which is not creditable and is thus outside GST.
  • Punitive taxes of this order are levied primarily to discourage consumption of environmentally degrading fossil fuels and to garner revenues to fund infrastructure, while the creditable component enables offsetting of taxes on basically capital inputs.
  • These products are subjected to a plethora of levies like VAT, excise duty, storage levies, security levies and environmental taxes in the EU and the total incidence of such taxes ranges from around 45 per cent to 60 per cent.
  • The US is an exception in these matters since it imposes taxes at rates as low as around 15 per cent.

Including fuel oils in the GST regime

  • the 122nd Constitution Amendment Bill in 2014 for GST adopted the delayed choice approach.
  • Under the delayed-choice approach, petroleum products would be subjected to GST with effect from such date as the council may recommend.
  • Accordingly, sections 9(2) and 5(2) of the CGST/SGST Act and the IGST Act respectively, explicitly provide for levy of GST on these products with effect from such date as the Council may recommend.
  • Thus, bringing the aforesaid petro-products under GST is not within the reach of the central government alone.

How much will be the loss of revenue

  • A 28 per cent levy of GST on the base price would fetch around Rs 5.40 per litre on petrol and around Rs 5.45 on diesel to the central and each of the state governments.
  • Contrast the above with the current yield of Rs 32.90 per litre on petrol and Rs 31.80 per litre on diesel to the Centre alone and an average of around Rs 20 per litre and Rs 15 per litre on petrol and diesel, respectively, to each of the states.
  • This, however, would bring down the prices of petrol and diesel to around Rs 55 per litre.
  • This would translate into a revenue loss of around Rs 3 lakh crore on account of petrol and around Rs 1.1 lakh crore on account of diesel to the Centre and the states, at current volumes.

Consider the question “What are the various levies contributing to the prices of petrol and diesel in India? Examine the rationale for the heavy taxing of these products in India.”

Conclusion

Clearly, bringing petro-products under GST would not lower fuel oil prices by itself, unless the Union and the state governments are willing to take deep cuts in their revenues.

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