GST Impact on Gold & Jewellery

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Introduction

India’s centuries-old gold industry is the world’s biggest market for the metal, with imports meeting almost all the country’s requirements for jewellery and investment. Imports are high not only because of a huge demand, but also because of the large population of about 1.2 billion people. India’s gold market is estimated to have more than 300,000 jewellers, mostly small, family-run businesses.

The following chart will give you an idea of how gold has fared across the last 90 years:

Year Rate (per 10 gms) in INR Year Rate (per 10 gms) in INR Year Rate (per 10 gms) in INR
1927 18.37 1957 90.62 1987 2570.00
1928 18.37 1958 95.38 1988 3130.00
1929 18.43 1959 102.56 1989 3140.00
1930 18.05 1960 111.87 1990 3200.00
1931 18.18 1961 119.35 1991 3466.00
1932 23.06 1962 119.75 1992 4334.00
1933 24.05 1963 97.00 1993 4140.00
1934 28.81 1964 63.25 1994 5598.00
1935 30.81 1965 71.75 1995 4680.00
1936 29.81 1966 83.75 1996 5160.00
1937 30.18 1967 102.50 1997 4725.00
1938 29.93 1968 162.00 1998 4045.00
1939 31.74 1969 176.00 1999 4234.00
1940 36.04 1970 184.50 2000 4400.00
1941 37.43 1971 193.00 2001 4300.00
1942 44.05 1972 202.00 2002 4990.00
1943 51.05 1973 278.50 2003 5600.00
1944 52.93 1974 506.00 2004 5850.00
1945 62.00 1975 540.00 2005 7000.00
1946 83.87 1976 432.00 2006 8400.00
1947 88.62 1977 486.00 2007 10800.00
1948 95.87 1978 685.00 2008 12500.00
1949 94.17 1979 937.00 2009 14500.00
1950 99.18 1980 1330.00 2010 18500.00
1951 98.05 1981 1800.00 2011 26400.00
1952 76.81 1982 1645.00 2012 30680.00
1953 73.06 1983 1800.00 2013 29600.00
1954 77.75 1984 1970.00 2014 28006.50
1955 79.78 1985 2130.00 2015 26343.50
1956 90.81 1986 2140.00 2016 28623.50

It goes without saying that households and businessmen alike will want to keep a keen eye out on how GST affects this sector.

Previous regime

When it comes to gold and jewellery, there are primarily two costs involved: purchase price and making charges. In the previous regime, while Excise Duty and VAT was applicable on the purchase price, there was no tax on making charges, which typically account for close to 12% of the actual cost of gold purchased.

However, before the levy of excise and VAT, 10% Customs Duty was charged on gold, which is primarily imported into the country. Post that, an Excise Duty of 1% was charged, followed by VAT which had different rates across different states. While most states charged 1% VAT, there were states such as Kerala, which used to charge 5% VAT. Overall, the national average for VAT hovered around 1.2%.

GST regime

After the implementation of GST, it will marginally increase to approximately 14%. Hence, the cost of gold and gold jewellery will be marginally higher in the GST era.

GST on gold purchase

On the 3rd of June, 2017, the much awaited GST rates on gold and jewellery were announced. While gold was rated at a flat 3%, uncut diamonds and precious stones were taxed at 0.25%. Similar to gold, the rate of 3% was fixed for silver as well as polished diamonds.

GST on gold making

In addition to this, the government has also levied a 5% GST on making charges. The tax on making charges was initially fixed at 18%, but appeals from Indian jewellery councils and bodies to reduce the rate resulted in the subsequent reduction. This is also a relief for end consumers, who would have had to bear the burden of a higher tax otherwise.

Import Duty on Gold

The one duty on gold, which has not been subsumed under GST is the Import Duty. Gold will continue to attract an import duty of 10%, as it continues being one of the key products being imported into a highly gold-loving nation.

Previous regime vs. GST regime

If we compare the taxation between the previous and GST regimes, this is how it looks like –

Particulars Previous Regime GST Regime
Price 100.00 100.00
Custom Duty @ 10% (A) 10.00 10.00
Price + Custom Duty 110.00 110.00
Excise @ 1% (B) 1.10 NA
Price + Custom Duty + Excise 111.10 110.00
VAT @ 1.2% (C) 1.30 NA
Price + Custom Duty + Excise + VAT 112.40 110.00
GST @ 3% (D) NA 3.30
Total Purchase Price 112.40 113.30
Making Charges @ 12% 13.20 13.20
GST on Making Charges @ 5% (E) NA 0.66
Total Price 125.60 127.16
Total Tax (A+B+C+D+E) 12.40 13.96

As the comparison suggest, there is bound to be a slight increase in gold prices post GST, and the effective tax of 12.4% has now risen to 13.96%. However, the benefit of seamless flow of input tax credit across the chain, is expected to negate the slight rise in taxes, under GST.

Sale of old jewellery

In a country like India, where gold is in high demand, it is a common occurrence in many households, to sell old gold ornaments, and buy new ones, by investing a little extra. Under GST, clear guidelines needed to be set to handle such aspects. Thus, the following was determined:

  • If old jewellery is given to a jeweller, only for some modification or remake, then it will be considered as job work and 5% GST will be charged.
  • If money from the sale of old jewellery is used to buy new jewellery, the tax paid on the sale will be adjusted against the GST on the purchase.
  • Customers and jewellers were initially worried that a jeweller buying old jewellery from an individual, will charge 3% GST under reverse charge mechanism – which virtually meant that a customer gets less value for per gram of gold sold. Later however, the GST Council clarified, that a jeweller will not be liable to pay any tax under reverse charge mechanism on such purchases. However, to ensure that jewellers don’t misuse the waiver for customers the government has built a safety net. If an unregistered supplier of gold ornaments sells to someone who is a registered supplier, the tax under reverse charge mechanism will apply.

GST impact on the industry

Price of gold

The obvious impact of GST has been an increase in the tax rates on gold, which were expected to increase prices, leading to decline in demand. However, at the current moment, the price rise has less to do with GST, and more to do with the high demand for gold in overseas markets. The plunging US dollar has led to higher volumes of trade in gold across the world, which has thus increased prices in India as well. However, it is expected that post the markets regain stability, prices in India too will stabilise.

Gold smuggling

The tax hike under GST could also inadvertently encourage more smuggling into India which is the world’s second-biggest gold consumer, buying almost all its gold abroad – about 800 tonnes a year. Ever since the custom duty on gold was hiked to 10% in August 2013, gold smuggling has been rampant. The GST rate has increased the incentive to bring in smuggled gold, which is why experts have called for the government to reduce import duty and make smuggling unviable. A lower import duty could help increase legal imports and ultimately legal sales boosting tax revenue.

Under the counter buying

Last year, when India was hit by the demonetisation wave, there was a surge of black money being converted in gold overnight resulting in a surge in gold demand in November. In fact the impact was so huge, that gold imports went up by almost 100 tonnes per month.

Similarly, under GST, the hike of almost 1.5% in overall taxes is likely to force more transactions into the black market. Smaller shops could be more inclined to sell without receipts, potentially hitting sales of big jewellers that are more likely to stick to the rules.

However, on the other hand, given that the seamless and transparent nature of GST is expected to outweigh the tax increase, the GST regime could actually see more small and unorganised players moving to an organised reporting structure, widening the tax net and bringing additional revenue for the government.

Compensation to states

While for most states across India, the tax would have seen a rise, states like Kerala, which had a VAT rate as high as 5%, will see a decline in the effective tax rate. Thus, buyers in Kerala today will need to spend less for gold than before, and the state government is fearing loss in revenue in the GST era. Given that the government has made provisions for compensation, it is expected that similar concerns raised by states who had a high VAT rate for gold, will be dealt with in totality.

Jewellers operations

The industry also needs clarity on standardised billing procedures in the country for selling gold jewellery, as some jewellers show making charges separately, while others include them in the price of gold. The international norms say that making charges, wastages, and stones, among other things, must be shown separately in the sales invoice at the time of selling gold jewellery. It is important to understand that most jewellers do not have their own manufacturing unit, so they would be paying 5% GST to workers making jewellery and collecting only 3% from the customer. Thus, a jeweller needs to factor in the differential tax on making charge in the price of jewellery.

Conclusion

Long-term outlooks regarding the impact of GST on gold in India appear to be mostly positive. Fears of increased smuggling due to the high costs associated with buying the metal do exist, but it remains to be seen if the situation improves with time. At the moment, the jewellery sector has lauded the GST rates being levied, and is confident that it will result in greater transparency in the gold manufacturing market.

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