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What is the Difference Between GST and VAT

10 Mar 2023

The Indian government, in its neverending bid to see India as a progressive economy, had introduced a comprehensive tax on goods and services. This was the GST (goods and services tax). As a result of this tax, all the previous taxes which had to be borne by consumers as individual taxes imposed on the buying of goods and services, taxes paid by consumers come under one uniform tax. The GST has outshadowed taxes like service tax and excise duty in India. However, there are specific taxes on goods that still exist, like VAT. You should know the difference between VAT and GST so you are aware of the indirect taxes you may be incurring as a consumer. 

Some Basics About VAT & GST

People often face a fair amount of confusion while discussing GST and VAT. VAT is the short form for a tax, the value-added tax, and GST is the short form of a tax, the goods and services tax. The GST was introduced in India in 2017 and has been successfully implemented as a uniform tax on all goods and services bought and sold. So, while speaking about the difference between VAT and GST, people tend to think that VAT is no longer in existence. VAT is still imposed on some goods and is a tax levied at the level of the state government in India. 

Individuals who file their tax returns every year may also be somewhat perplexed with all the different taxes that have to be paid to the government. For instance, if you open a demat account, buy equity and turn a profit, are you liable to pay any GST or VAT? The simple answer is “no”. Getting a few basic principles straight about VAT and GST can help you to understand the concepts behind these two taxes and their differences. 

What is GST?

What is the difference between GST and VAT? To answer this question in the best possible way, you should be clear about the GST or goods and services tax first. The GST, in India, aims at bringing all Indians under a single taxation system as far as the consumption of goods and services is concerned. Furthermore, as an investor who may wish to invest in an upcoming IPO, you may be puzzled as to whether this tax applies when you subscribe to an IPO. No, the GST does not apply in such cases. 

That being said, the GST is a kind of value-added tax system which is levied on products and services which are sold for daily consumption. The GST is levied on consumers and is remitted to the Indian government by way of the seller. While the GST is a “common tax” that proponents say is a great balancer for taxpayers, critics argue that it is imposed on everyone, irrespective of their financial and economic status. This, they state, memes it a kind of regressive system of collection of tax. 

What is VAT in India?

In explaining the difference between VAT and GST within the Indian framework of consumer taxation, you should be aware of VAT and whether this impacts you, as a consumer. VAT was implemented as far back as 2005 in India. Like GST, VAT is also a kind of indirect tax, and like GST, it is paid to the Indian government. However, VAT, or value-added tax, is a tax which manufacturers of goods or services have to pay at every phase of the supply chain while producing products or services. These taxes are particularly applicable within a state and hence, are not deemed central government taxes. The VAT is collected by each state of India and is dependent on the kinds of goods and services in different categories. In this sense, it is not as uniform as the GST and applies differently to different goods and services. 

Key Differences Between GST and VAT

If you wish to see the main difference between VAT and GST according to different variables of distinction, have a look at the table below: 

Basis of Comparison






Regulations and Rates of Taxation 

VAT rates differ for every state in India, and also vary according to goods and services in different categories. Since it is a state-wise tax, the rules of taxation of each state apply and could differ from one state to another.

The rate of GST is standard all over India. Regarding rules of taxation, there are four kinds of acts which apply to different kinds of transactions in which GST is applied. 

Regulatory Authority

The VAT is collected by the state government and this is the regulatory authority that governs the VAT for each state in India.

In the case of GST, the State GST and the Central GST are collected from each sale. The tax is then divided between the central and state government in question. 


In the case of the movement of goods, compliance is different from one state to the other. 

Where GST is concerned, the movement of goods does not impact the GST since this is uniform all over the country. 

The Collection of Tax

The responsibility of tax collection rests with the state of the seller. 

The responsibility of tax collection rests with the state that is consuming goods and services. 

Considerable Differences

While the GST is an easier and more convenient way to apply tax on goods and services, the VAT is also applicable in some cases and this depends on the goods to be taxed. For instance, certain goods like liquor and cigarettes which do not fall within the categories of consumer goods under the umbrella of GST, have a VAT applied to them. As far as investors are concerned, when you open a demat account to invest in the share market, you may not have these taxes applied to any profits made. This is not the case when you invest in any upcoming IPO either. However, you should know that GST applies to every intraday transaction in trading. 


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