Sector-specific provisions needed in Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to create clarity in tax treatment of online marketplace transactions, a report said today. “The ‘one tax, one market’ concept on which GST is based should be a welcome step for online marketplaces. This demand of industry came from the fact that MSMEs which occupy a large chunk on Indian business, have many unique industry specific issues.
To create clarity in terms of the tax treatment of online marketplace sector transactions, sector-specific provisions need to be introduced in the GST regime,” the report jointly brought out by audit and consultancy firm PwC India and Internet and Mobile Association of India said. “The companies will have to follow the whole of business approach for GST impact assessment and implementation, where tax and business advisory teams work together to provide a seamless service to clients that covers all necessary business aspects. Only then will the sector be able to utilise its potential in this market,” it said.
According to the report, the complex and ever-evolving ecosystem of online marketplaces, involving multiple parties and transactions across nations, is giving rise to a plethora of international and India tax and regulatory issues. Since the introduction of the GST regime will affect the very fundamentals of how business is carried out in the country, it is essential to reflect upon the impact on online marketplaces. The report has pointed out multiple levy of taxes at different stages of transactions and implications of the FDI policy.
It has recommended specific provisions for e-commerce and defining such transactions clearly. If the rules framed under GST put the onus on e-commerce players to disclose and provide information, the provisions should be assessee-friendly and not be so stringent as to lead to a severe penalty or prosecution exposure for such companies, it said. On liability to pay tax, the report said online marketplaces should only be liable to pay levies on the service fees they earn. Moreover, it has suggested for a lower rate which should be prescribed specially for services (including e- commerce services) to avoid an increase in costs. The rate should not be more than 18 per cent and kept uniform throughout the country in light of the ‘one tax, one market’ concept, it said.