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India offers a well-structured tax system for its population. Taxes are the largest source of income for the government. This money is deployed for various purposes and projects for the development of the nation.

Taxes are determined by the Central and State Governments along with local authorities like municipal corporations. The government cannot impose any tax unless it is passed as a law.

Here are the salient features of the taxation system in India:

1. Role of the Central and State Government
The entire system is clearly demarcated with specific roles for the central and state government. The Central Government of India levies taxes such as customs duty,income tax, service tax, and central excise duty.

The taxation system in India empowers the state governments to levy income tax on agricultural income, professional tax, value added tax (VAT), state excise duty, land revenue and stamp duty. The local bodies are allowed to collect octroi, property tax, and other taxes on various services like drainage and water supply.

Types of taxes

Taxes are classified under two categories namely direct and indirect taxes. The largest difference between these taxes is their implementation. Direct taxes are paid by the assessee while indirect taxes are levied on goods and services.

A) Direct taxes
Direct taxes are levied on individuals and corporate entities and cannot be transferred to others. These include income tax, wealth tax, and gift tax.

Income tax
As per the Income Tax (IT) Act, 1961 every assessee whose total income exceeds the maximum exempt limit is liable to pay this tax. The tax structure and rates are annually prescribed by the Union Budget. This tax is imposed during each assessment year, which commences on 1st April and ends on 31st March. The total income is calculated from various heads such as business and profession, house property, salaries, capital gains, and other sources. The assesses are classified as individuals, Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), association of persons (AOP), body of individuals (BOI), company, firm, local authority, and artificial judiciary not falling in any other category.

B) Indirect taxes
Indirect taxes are not directly paid by the assessee to the government authorities. These are levied on goods and services and collected by intermediaries (those who sell goods or offer services). Here are the most common indirect taxes in India:

Value Added Tax (VAT)
This is levied by the state government and was not imposed by all states when first implemented. Presently, all states levy such tax. It is imposed on goods sold in the state and the rate is decided by the state governments.

Customs duty
Imported goods brought into the country are charged with customs duty which is levied by the Central Government.

Goods that move from one state to another are liable to octroi duty. This tax is levied by the respective state governments.

Excise duty
All goods produced domestically are charged with excise duty. Also known as Central Value Added Tax (CENVAT), this is paid by the manufacturers.

Service Tax
All services provided domestically are charged with service tax. The tax is paid by all service providers unless specifically exempted.

C) Goods and Service Tax (GST)
As a significant step towards the reform of indirect taxation in India, the Central Government has introduced the Goods and Service Tax (GST). GST is a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India and will subsume many indirect taxes levied by the Central and State Governments. GST will be implemented through Central GST (CGST), Integrated GST (IGST) and State GST (SGST).

Four laws (IGST, CGST, UTGST & GST (Compensation to the States), Act) have received President assent. All the States & UT expected to pass State GST Act, by end of May 2017. GST law is expected to take effect from July 1, 2017.

Revenue Authorities


The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is a part of the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance. This body provides inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India and is also responsible for administration of direct tax laws through the Income Tax Department.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is also a part of the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance. It is the nodal national agency responsible for administering customs, central excise duty and service tax in India.


Under the GST regime, the CBEC has been renamed as the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) post legislative approval. The CBIC would supervise the work of all its field formations and directorates and assist the government in policy making in relation to GST, continuing central excise levy and customs functions.

The Indian taxation system in India has witnessed several modifications over the years. There has been standardization of income tax rates with simpler governing laws enabling common people to understand the same. This has resulted in ease of paying taxes, improved compliance, and enhanced enforcement of the laws



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