Income Tax

Understanding Value Added Tax (VAT): Benefits, Differences with GST, and Tax Compliance

Understanding Value Added Tax (VAT): Benefits, Differences with GST, and Tax Compliance

Last Updated : March 10, 2023, 5:53 p.m.

In order to replace the previous sales tax, VAT was initially adopted in India in 2005. It was put into effect in all of the states of the nation in June 2014, except for the Lakshadweep Islands and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Every time a product received a specified value addition, the VAT was charged at each stage of the process. As opposed to income, VAT is based on consumption. It is a flat rate tax that is applied uniformly on all purchases, as opposed to a progressive income tax that increases taxes as the income increases. Customers pay an indirect tax to the government through producers of products and services.

What is VAT?

It is a type of tax applied to purchasing products and services when they are sold to the customer. Every country’s GDP includes VAT as a key component. The actual tax is levied from customers or end-users who buy these goods and services, even though VAT is levied on the sale of products and services and paid by businesses to the government.

The basis for calculating VAT is input tax and output tax. The VAT Rates might vary from one state to the next. Only products purchased and sold inside a given state are subject to this tax. As a result, both the seller and the buyer must reside in the same state.

Features of VAT

The basic features of Value Added Tax in India include the following:

State-Level Administration

In India, each state is responsible for managing the VAT rather than being managed by the national government. This contributes to the tax system’s adaptability and responsiveness to regional economic conditions while also giving state governments a source of income.

Rate System

Due to the different rate systems used in India, different VAT rates are applied depending on the kind of products and services sold. As necessary products and services are taxed at a lower rate than luxury goods and services, this helps to ensure that VAT is applied fairly and equally.

Comprehensive Coverage

A wide range of products and services, including manufactured commodities and even intangibles like intellectual property, are subject to VAT in India. This contributes to VAT being a thorough and equal type of taxation, as everyone pays the same proportion of their income, regardless of their purchasing habits.


A self-assessment system governs VAT in India, where enterprises are in charge of determining their own VAT liabilities and paying the appropriate amounts to the government. This ensures that value-added tax is collected more effectively and lessens the administrative burden on the government.

Credit System

India has a credit mechanism for VAT, allowing businesses to deduct the tax paid on inputs from the tax charged on outputs. As a result, businesses pay less for VAT, making it a more effective method of taxes.

Centralised Registration

Businesses in India must register for VAT with the central tax authority rather than with specific state authorities. This helps to make sure that tax is collected efficiently and effectively, lowering the risk of tax evasion and fraud.


In India, VAT returns are submitted electronically, lessening businesses’ administrative load and securing effective tax collection. Businesses can view their VAT records online anytime, making managing their tax responsibility simpler when filing electronically.

Supports Small Businesses

VAT in India helps small enterprises by providing a simple and effective tax structure that is concise to deal with. Small enterprises can refund the VAT they paid on inputs, which lowers their tax burden and boosts their competitiveness.

Types of VAT Rates

The Government of India has classified the value-added tax rate on different products. The classification is as follows:


There is no VAT applied to the sale of very basic items. These products are mostly sold in their purest or most natural form by the unorganised sector.

1% VAT Rate

A small percentage of VAT is applied to typically very expensive items. This group of products involves items like gold, silver, and other precious gems in addition to valuable jewellery. For these commodities, the fixed VAT in most Indian states is 1% of the price.

4-5% VAT Rate

Daily consumable goods have been included in this category by a number of state governments. For most Indian states, the VAT rate on necessities like oil, coffee, medicines, etc., is between 4-5%.

General VAT Rate

Commodities that cannot be divided and placed under any of the categories mentioned above are subject to general VAT rates. Liquor, cigarettes, and other items are subject to higher VAT rates of 12.5% or 14-15%. Many state governments use a generic rate for commodities that cannot be classified under the list of categories above. Products like those are subject to taxes in several states at rates of 12%, 13%, or even 15%.

VAT Registration

All businesses that take part in the manufacturing of products and services are required to register for VAT. The registration procedure consists of designating the company as a corporation eligible to file a VAT return with the government. According to the VAT Registration Act, all businesses are required to register for Value Added Tax payments. The following are the fundamental steps needed to complete the VAT registration process:

  • The registration application and the proper documentation must be completed and submitted to the state VAT office for value-added tax registration.
  • Within three days of receiving the application, the regional VAT office would visit the business’s location to carry out an inspection.
  • After the state VAT office has completed the inspection, the needed professional fee deposit charge must be paid.
  • Once the fee deposit has been made, the TIN No. will be assigned, and the VAT registration certificate will be given the next day.

Online VAT Registration

Online registration in India is a simple and quick procedure that allows businesses to digitally register for Value Added Tax. The steps for online registration in India are as follows:

  • Before applying for VAT, you must establish whether your company is eligible. Businesses in India selling products or services and having a turnover over a certain threshold are subject to the country’s value-added tax.
  • Collect the proper documents, such as proof of business identity, proof of address, bank information, and details about your business operations.
  • Visit the official VAT website, then choose the registration option after logging in.
  • Complete the form with all necessary information, and add scanned copies of any essential papers.
  • A permanent VAT registration number will be given to your business following the complete verification of your application and supporting documentation.


VAT is a complex yet efficient kind of taxation that is employed by countries all over the world. The transparency of value-added tax benefits consumers since they can simply see how much tax they are spending and hold businesses accountable for the revenue they collect. Although GST has largely replaced VAT, some products are still subject to the value-added tax and are not included in the range of GST. Petroleum products and items with alcohol are two examples of such goods. VAT is a strong and adaptable tax system that successfully increases revenue and ensures tax compliance.

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