Goods and Services Tax (GST) is essentially one new indirect tax system for the whole nation, which will make India one unified common market, right from the manufacturer to the consumer. It is a broad-based, comprehensive, single indirect tax which will be levied concurrently on goods and services across India.
The Central and State indirect taxes that may be subsumed by GST include Value Added Tax (VAT), Excise Duty, Service Tax, Central Sales Tax, Additional Customs Duty and Special Additional Duty of Customs. GST will be levied at every stage of the production and distribution chains by giving the benefit of Input Tax Credit (ITC) of the tax remitted at previous stages; thereby, treating the entire country as one market.
Due to the federal structure of India, there will be two components of GST - Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST). Both Centre and States will simultaneously levy GST across the value chain. For interstate transactions, an Integrated GST (IGST) will be applicable which will be settled back between the center and the states.
Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) a non-Government, private limited company has been formed to provide the IT infrastructure to State/Central government and taxpayers. It has setup a central solution platform to technically enable the GST system including registration of taxpayers, upload/download of invoices, filing returns, State/Central Government reporting, IGST settlement etc. This platform, the GST Platform, has been setup from day 1 as an open API (GST API) based platform allowing various authorized parties to exchange information at scale.
The core IT Strategy for GST had been identified way back and is now accessible.
GSTN has further identified GSPs who can wrap the GST Platform and offer various value added services to its customers (i.e. taxpayers) and further downstream sub-GSPs or registered application service providers (ASPs).
GSPs have limited time to understand the new set of rules, which are continuously evolving, develop the solution and host and run it on a secure and scalable platform. Govt. has also adopted an ecosystem approach which will allow GSPs to further expose their APIs to downstream ASPs (Application Service Providers) who will cater to taxpayer needs.
GSP and the ASPs need to focus on solution capabilities and select a platform which provides most of the plumbing necessary to build an open yet secure, scalable, maintainable and compliant platform and achieve all of this at a manageable cost.
With three huge data centers in India offering a host of IAAS, PAAS and SAAS services supporting host of open source and commercial platforms, Azure offers the best platform to host GSP and GST related ASP solutions.
The attached document authored by Mandar Samant (Area Architect- Microsoft Services) provides a good overview of how Azure services can get GSPs and ASPs started very quickly and provide cutting edge GST solution to the taxpayer community in India.