Indirect Tax

An indirect tax is a type of tax where the burden of paying the tax is passed on to another entity, that is the end consumer. Unlike direct taxes, which are levied directly on individuals or businesses, indirect taxes are imposed on goods and services. The responsibility for collecting and remitting the tax to the government falls on manufacturers, distributors, or retailers.

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What is Indirect Tax?

Indirect tax is a type of tax that is not directly levied on the income of individuals or businesses but is imposed on the production, sale, purchase, or consumption of goods and services. Unlike direct taxes, such as income tax, which are directly collected from individuals or businesses, indirect taxes are collected by an intermediary, such as a retailer or service provider, who then passes on the tax burden to the end consumer. 

Examples of Indirect Taxes:

Imagine you decide to buy a pizza. Here's a breakdown of the cost:

Base Price: ₹100

GST (5%): ₹5 (added by the restaurant owner)

So, the total amount you pay for the pizza is ₹105. The GST, which is 5% of the base price, is an additional charge that goes to the government, and it brings the overall cost to ₹105.

What are the Different Types of Indirect Taxes in India?

Below are the different types of indirect taxes in India:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • Sales Tax

  • Excise Tax

  • Customs duty

  • Value Added Tax (VAT)

  • Stamp Duty

  • Entertainment Tax

  • Service Tax

  1. Goods and Services Tax (GST):

    GST is an indirect tax on goods and services levied at each stage of production and distribution. It replaced multiple taxes, simplifying the system and ensuring that the end consumer bears the final tax burden.

  2. Sales Tax:

    Sales tax is an indirect tax imposed on the sale of goods and, in some cases, services. Collected by the seller at the point of sale, it contributes to government revenue and varies in rates and regulations across jurisdictions.

  3. Excise Duty:

    This tax is levied on goods manufactured or produced in India. The rate of excise duty varies depending on the type of goods. Excise duty is a major source of revenue for the government and helps to control the prices of certain goods.

  4. Customs Duty:

    This tax is levied on goods imported into India. The rate of customs duty varies depending on the type of goods and its country of origin. Customs duty is a major source of revenue for the government and helps to protect domestic industries.

  5. Value Added Tax (VAT):

    Prior to GST, VAT was a major indirect tax levied on the sale of goods in many Indian states. However, with the introduction of GST, VAT has been abolished in most states. Currently, VAT is only applicable to a limited number of goods, such as petroleum products and alcohol.

  6. Stamp Duty:

    Stamp duty is a one-time tax on the transfer of legal documents like property deeds and contracts. It ensures the legality of transactions and varies in amount based on transaction or property value.

  7. Entertainment Tax:

    This tax is levied on tickets to movies, plays, and other forms of entertainment. The rate of entertainment tax varies from state to state.

  8. Service Tax:

    Before the introduction of GST, service tax was levied on various services provided in India. However, with the implementation of GST, most services have been added under the GST regime. Currently, service tax is only applicable to a limited number of services, such as stockbroking and online gambling.

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What are the Features of Indirect Tax?

Indirect taxes have several features that contribute to the efficiency and fairness of the taxation system:

  1. Efficient Taxation Structure:

    • Indirect taxes facilitate a streamlined tax system wherein customers pay taxes on the products or services they purchase.

    • The responsibility for collecting this tax lies with the seller or manufacturer, who subsequently forwards the collected amount to the government.

  2. Fair and Progressive Taxation:

    • The proper implementation of uniform indirect taxes across the country contributes to their progressive nature.

    • This leads to numerous benefits for buyers, sellers, and the government, reducing confusion and removing overlapping issues.

    • The progressive nature of indirect taxes has also played a role in minimising tax fraud.

  3. Transparency and Accountability:

    • Indirect taxes, being directly implemented on the sale and purchase of goods and services, have contributed significantly to the reduction of tax evasion.

    • This reduction in tax evasion enhances the transparency of tax administration and collection processes, fostering a more accountable financial system.

What are the Advantages of Indirect Tax?

  • Indirect taxes are levied on a wide range of goods and services, creating a broad revenue base for the government.

  • Collection through sellers simplifies the administration of indirect taxes, making them easier to implement and manage.

  • Direct implementation of transactions minimises opportunities for tax evasion, ensuring a more transparent taxation system.

  • Indirect taxes can be adjusted to influence consumer behaviour, providing a tool for economic control.

  • Uniform application of indirect taxes provides simplicity, reducing confusion and complexities in the tax structure.


  • What is the difference between direct and indirect tax?

    Difference between Direct and Indirect Tax:
    • Direct Tax: Paid directly by individuals or businesses based on income, profits, or assets (e.g., income tax, capital gains tax).

    • Indirect Tax: Levied on goods and services and ultimately borne by consumers as part of the purchase price (e.g., GST, customs duty).

  • Is TDS Indirect Tax?

    Tax Deducted at Source or TDS is a type of indirect tax. It involves the direct collection of revenue at the source of the recipient's income. This system operates on the principles of 'pay as you earn' and 'collect when it is earned'.

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