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Recent developments in the EU: GST in India
May, 02nd 2011

Several previous articles in this column have addressed various aspects of the impending GST, including on the Constitution (115th) Amendment Bill 2011, which is a significant recent development relating to the GST.

However, while we have been debating the issues and challenges with respect to the dual GST, ranging from rates, coverage and exemptions to input tax offsets, thresholds, zero rating and the like, it is important, and indeed interesting, to note that the European Union (EU), which is home to the VAT in a manner of speaking, has itself felt the need to commence a thorough review of the VAT/GST system that is currently prevalent in its member countries.

It has accordingly published a Green Paper on the future of VAT in the EU, for a progression towards a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system. Surely, India should take note of these developments as there are several similarities in the issues that have been identified in the EU as needing resolution and the issues that we are currently grappling in relation to the dual GST.

The idea is to evidently have a GST in India as well which would foster a simpler, more robust and efficient indirect tax system, as is desired by the EU. This article, the first of a series, discusses the background to and the approach of the Green Paper.

Subsequent articles will focus on the details as contained in the Green Paper as also the European Commission Staff Working Document, which is the accompanying document to the Green Paper, as well as compare and contrast these with the issues that are relevant for the GST.

By way of background, VAT was first introduced in Europe by France in 1954 and thereafter adopted by the member States of the European Economic Committee in 1967. VAT has become a major source of revenue in all these years and by 2008, VAT receipts accounted for 21.4 per cent of the national tax revenues of EU member States.

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