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Small and mid-sized cars may see a small hike in prices after the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is rolled out from July 1 as different goods are fitted into the four-slab rate structure. The GST will unify at least 10 central and state taxes into one. Goods and services will have to fall into one of the approved four rate categories of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent, which is closest rate to the present incidence of taxation. Small cars currently attract a 12.5 per cent central excise duty.
Another 14.5-15 per cent VAT is levied by states, taking the total tax incidence to 27-27.5 per cent. A senior finance ministry official said the closed slab for this category of cars would be 28 per cent, resulting in a small increase in price. Mid-sized cars of up to 1500 cc are levied with a 24 per cent excise by the the central government and a 14.5 per cent VAT by state governments, taking the tax incidence to 38.5 per cent. So this category of vehicles will attract the highest tax rate of 28 per cent and a state compensation cess to take the total incidence closer to the current levels, the official said. The GST law provides for levy of cess on top of the peak tax rate on demerit and luxury goods like pan masala, tobacco and certain class of automobiles to create a corpus that will be used to compensate states for loss of revenue arising on account of the implementation of the GST in first five years. The official said a cess of up to 15 per cent is provided in the GST Compensation Law and the final incidence of taxation would be arrived at adding the same to the peak rate. The cess would be levied in a manner so as to keep the final incidence of taxation at close to current levels, he said. For SUV and bigger cars of more than 1500 cc, the current incidence of taxation is 41.5 per cent to 44.5 per cent (comprising of 27-30 per cent of central excise and the remaining 14.5 per cent being state VAT). The official said these class of vehicles would be put in the peak 28 per cent tax bracket and maximum 15 per cent cess. This would take the total incidence of taxation to 43 per cent. This means that for a select few vehicles, the tax incidence would be marginally lower than at present and would thus result in lower prices if the manufacturer passes on the benefit to the consumers. Dubbed as the biggest tax reform since Independence, the GST is to unify at least 10 indirect taxes into one to be collected at state and central levels. Under the existing structure, the central government levies a production tax, called excise duty, and the state government charge a sales tax called VAT. These two will unify in the GST.