Understand The Difference between VAT and GST

Last Update Date : May 04, 2019
Estimated Read Time: 6 min

GST and VAT are both counter approach taxation systems by the government to charge taxes on goods and services across the nation. The old tax system, i.e. value added tax, was the method of applying taxes on goods while the goods and services tax is set to change this course of action towards consumers.

What is VAT?

VAT or Value Added Tax was one of the indirect taxes which has been subsumed by GST. Although the concept of VAT was introduced in 2005, it was implemented in 2014 and applied to the sale of goods. Similarly, service tax applied to services.

Here are a few disadvantages of VAT

  • Different states had their own version of VAT law
  • Rate of VAT was different in different states
  • Cascading effect of taxes was prominent under the VAT regime

[ Read: What is GST ]

How GST is different from VAT

VAT vs GST differences

Difference between VAT and GST


Number of key differences between VAT and GST are listed below:


VAT is applicable only on the sale of goods while GST is applicable both on goods and services.

Taxable event

A key difference between VAT and GST is that the taxable event in case of VAT is the sale of goods. However, in case of GST it is the supply of goods or services.

Tax distribution between state and centre

VAT laws and tax rates were different in each state and each of them kept the whole share of collected tax with themselves. However, under the GST regime, both SGST and CGST is collected from the supply of goods and services and later bifurcated by the central and state governments.

[ Read: Types of GST ]

Calculation of input credit

In case of the VAT, the dealer has the right to deposit his net tax liability by deducting input VAT on goods purchased from output VAT on goods sold. However, as GST applies to goods as well as services provided, the GST portal system calculates the input credit which is used for payment of the next GST liability.

Input tax credit

The credit of input tax cannot be claimed for services in case of VAT as it is applicable only to goods. But, input tax credit can be claimed for both goods as well as services in case of GST as it applies to both.

[ Read: Input Tax Credit under GST ]

Declaration System

VAT used to have a declaration system (i.e. issuance of various forms for a particular pool of transactions) for interstate sales (Form C), Branch Transfer (Form F), Deemed Exports (Form H), SEZ sales (Form I), etc. Hence the VAT system was a bit complicated and paperwork driven.
This concept of Declaration has been done away with under the GST regime.

File your GST Returns with H&R Block

Input Tax Credit Mismatch

Under VAT, the taxpayer was informed about the mismatches only at the time of assessment of that particular tax period which was resulting in the cash outflow for such mismatches or the follow-up with such vendors after almost 2-3 years after the transaction took place. This used to have very serious repercussions on the taxpayers, particularly if the amount was huge. This was in substance resulting in the irreversible credit loss to the taxpayer.

Under GST, automated monthly reconciliation of transactions has been introduced which will make the taxpayers identify the differences immediately and take follow up and rectify the mismatches at that point itself. This will substantially reduce the credit loss.

Taxation on services

VAT is not applicable to provided or sold services. Service tax was charged additionally @ 15%. GST rates for services depend on nature of service. It may be 12% and 18% and 28% depending on the sector. Most services come under 18% GST.

Return Filing

Under the VAT regime, the due date to file a return was 20th of succeeding month.
Under the GST regime, the due date to file a return for sales is 10th, the purchase is 15th, and payment is 20th of succeeding month. Those applying for composition scheme have to file a return only once every quarter.

Read: Returns under GST ]

Compulsion for VAT number & GSTIN

Obtaining registration under VAT was mandatory for businesses exceeding an annual turnover of Rs 5 lakh (5 lakh was for Maharashtra VAT, it differed from state to state). Registration under GST is mandatory for businesses exceeding an annual turnover of Rs 20 lakh.

Seamless flow of credit

Under VAT, excise charged used to become a cost for the dealer as the credit of the same was not available, which lead to double taxation. But under GST, there is a seamless flow of credit.

Online payment

Online payment was not a compulsory thing under VAT, but GST makes it mandatory if the tax, penalty or interest etc. payable exceeds Rs 10,000.

Mode of Operation

While GST is a fully online technologically advanced tax regime, it was not the case under VAT. Many of the functions were not automated under the VAT which was compelling the taxpayers to do a lot of paperwork.

Table showing difference between VAT and GST

Point of Difference VAT GST
Applicability Goods Both goods and services
Taxable event Sale of goods Supply of goods and services
Tax b/w state and central govt. The whole share of tax collected goes to the state which collects it Collected tax is bifurcated b/w state and central govt.
Calculation of input credit Net tax liability = VAT on output – VAT on input Net tax liability = GST on output – GST on input
Input tax credit Cannot be claimed for services Can be claimed for both goods as well as services
Tax on services Not applicable Applicable
Return filing 20th of succeeding month 10th, 15th and 20th of succeeding month
Registration Mandatory if turnover exceeds Rs 5 lakh (varies from state to state) Mandatory if turnover exceeds Rs 20 lakh
Mode of payment of tax Offline Online if the amount exceeds  Rs 10,000
Tax distribution between state and centre Under VAT the revenue was collected by the seller state Under GST the revenue is  collected by consumer state
Flow of credit Excise duty paid was not available to be claimed as credit Seamless flow of credit

Difference between VAT and GST in India with Example

Consider a consultant providing services to his clients.

Under VAT regime

The consultant charged 15% service tax on services of Rs 70,000. So, his output tax was Rs 70,000 x 15% = Rs 10,500.
Then, if he purchased office supplies for Rs. 25,000 paying 5% as VAT : Rs 25,000 x 5% = Rs 1,250.
He had to pay Rs 10,500 output service tax without getting any deduction of Rs 1,250 VAT already paid on stationery.
His total tax outflow is Rs 11,750.

Under GST regime

GST on service of Rs 70,000 @18% = Rs 12,600
Subtract GST on office supplies (Rs 25,000*5%) = Rs 1,250
Net GST to pay = Rs 11,350

Now consider a machine manufacturer and the implications of VAT and GST for him.

Pre-GST implementation scenario

Before the implementation of GST, if a machine manufacturer had to sell a machine, he had to pay Excise duty and VAT on it. So if the price of machine sold was Rs 5,000 then the Excise duty @ 12.5% was Rs 625 which would bring the value to Rs 5,625. VAT of Rs 816 i.e. @ 14.5% would be charged on this value. So, the customer has to pay Rs 6,441.

Now let’s see how the same manufacturer sells his product in the GST regime.

Post-GST implementation scenario

In the GST regime, only GST is charged on the price of machinery. So, the seller charges CGST @ 9% and SGST @ 9% on the value of machinery which is Rs 5,000. So, the buyer in this case pays Rs 5,000 + Rs 450 (CGST) + Rs 450 (SGST) i.e., Rs 5,900 to buy the machine.

As you can assess from both the scenarios, the cascading effect of tax has vanished and the total tax payable is less under GST regime.

Hence, we can deduce from these points that there are a number of differences between GST and VAT. GST is a probable solution for the different issues taxpayers faced under the VAT regime.

At H&R Block India we have tax experts who will not only help you be GST compliant but also prepare and file your GST returns.

Focus on your business, not GST. Leave that to H&R Block experts.
Leave a Rating!
5.0 (5 Votes)
CA Chetan Shinde
CA Chetan Shinde
Chetan is the Lead Tax Advisor at H&R Block (India) with an experience of almost half a decade in audit and taxation. His professional areas of interest are GST advisory and statutory audit. Apart from taxation, he is passionate about social causes and works extensively towards rural school development and literacy.