The IMF also said that a dual rate structure with a low standard rate and an additional higher rate on select items can be progressive and preserve revenue neutrality
The IMF on Wednesday described the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as a “milestone reform” in India’s tax policy, but pushed for a simplified structure, saying the multiple rate structure and other features could give rise to high compliance and administrative costs.
In its annual country report, the International Monetary Fund also said that a dual rate structure with a low standard rate and an additional higher rate on select items can be progressive and preserve revenue neutrality.
The IMF said that GST is a milestone reform in India’s tax policy, taking the important step of unifying and harmonising numerous indirect taxes across all states of the federation and the central government.
“Yet, the GST has a complex structure with a relatively high number of rates (and exemptions), which could be simplified without sacrificing progressivity of the current GST and with potentially significant gains from lower compliance and administrative costs,” it said.
A dual rate structure with a low standard rate and an additional higher rate on select items can be progressive and preserve revenue neutrality, while streamlining exemptions would further contribute to progressivity and reduce compliance and administrative costs, the IMF recommended.
The IMF said that with the consumption basket of the rich taxed at higher rates than that of the poor, the GST as presently designed has an effective tax rate rising with household consumption. A revenue-neutral reduction in the number of rates would raise the effective rates for poorer households while reducing those for richer households. This is the key cost of moving to a simpler system, it argued.
In its report the IMF said the implementation of the GST led to the key step of harmonising indirect tax rates on goods and services that previously differed across different states and the centre and brought services into the state tax net.