Friday 21 June 2013

How is sales tax and vat calculated ?


State VAT for sales made in the same state (buyer and seller are located in the same state). Central Sales Tax for sales made interstate (where buyer and seller are in different states). Other than these there is no tax payable on sale of goods.

VAT - payable on all sales where the buyer and seller are in the same state. The rate of vat depends on the nature of goods being sold and can vary from 1 to 14.5 percent. Each state has a VAT Act and a VAT Schedule and all rates are chargeable in accordance with this. Note that VAT rates for the same article can be different depending on which State you are in e.g., the VAT rate in Delhi on sale of a pen may be 4 percent while the VAT rate on the sale of the same pen in Karnataka may be 12 percent.

CST - payable in all circumstances where the buyer and seller are located in different States. Flat rate for CST right now is 5 percent (other than for declared goods, but that isn't something that is bought and sold on e-commerce sites, so beyond the scope of the question). The reduced rate of 2 percent is typically applicable to B-2-B sales on production of what is called a C-Form, also not relevant here


Rate of tax depends on whether it is an inter state transaction (as defined by the place of the buyer and seller) or a intra state transaction. If the it is inter state and the buyer is registered, that means he can provide a c form, it is 2% CST. Otherwise CST has to be paid at the rate of the local State VAT.

Sale price on which tax needs to be calculated in the consideration that the dealer gets for the goods. This gets very interesting when you have a site which is platform where buyers and sellers meet, like ebay etc. which charges a commission helping the buyers and sellers meet.

I think the rate of tax should be calculated on the money that is paid to the seller after deducting the commission that the intermediary site charges is deducted. Even the shipping charges can be deducted from the sale price if they are charged separately (shown separately and same amount paid to transporter)

CST has to paid if it is an inter state txn, at the local state VAT rate if the buyer does not provide a c form. There are two different accounts into which you need to transfer money - one for CST and another for State VAT. 


Frankly e commerce websites in India are not following any set rules to pay taxes as there are so many ambiguties. Spply the bigger companies which have foreign investment in them. If you want to do an absolute legit business then according to the law apart from paying all taxes etc. you need a form from the customer which says the goods purchased is for personal use. This form you need to send it with the courier.

Also if you are charging delivery along with VAT CST there is also the ques. of service tax. However no one is following this as far as I know.

So what are they doing?

In case of drop shipping just ask the vendor to make the bill and show your cut in his books as commission hence you just pay TDS/Service tax . Rest of the taxes you need not worry about.

In case the product is being shipped from your inventory then the VAT/CST nonsense comes in.

One can apply for a Compositioin Scheme if they are a small vendor (less than 50lacs) and can pay a single tax rate for no matter where they ship.

However most website sales are way more than 50lacs an annum but what i have found out from very reliable sources working at e commerce websites is that they only pay the Vat rate applicable in the city. Why I dont know... But it is being done. This is one of the reasons why you dont see the tax amount in your e commerce invoice. So don't worry so much start off, If your company becomes worthy of an audit by the law I am sure you will have enough resources to get a clean chit!!

What you need to do by law: (Assume you are registered in Delhi)

Product in Delhi (in your inventory) sell in Delhi.

 Pay Delhi Vat :4.6%
Product in Bbay (in your inventory) sell in Delhi: Pay CST 4%
Product in Bbay (in your inventory) sell in Bbay: Pay CST 4%
Product being dropshipped but bill is on your name and vendor is transparent then you will be double taxed but later you can reclaim the input VAT.

Product being dropshipped with vendors bill attached you get commision vendor pays TDS you pay service tax. TDS can be reclaimed.

Apart from all this you need to pay service tax on the amt. you charhe for delivery.

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