Depending on which side of the political aisle you stand, GST is either the tax that destroyed the Indian economy, or the legislation that will elevate India to previously unheard of heights. Whatever be the political affiliation, it’s fair to say that 3 months into the new regime, implementation has not been problem-free. From a design point of view – what’s the moral of the story?
Well, as with most “brands”, to make sense of the situation we must look deeper. As far as the people were concerned, at the heart of the case for GST was not unification of taxes – that was the means to the end. At the heart of this case was simplification. From big businesses to small traders, from freelancers to consultants, the attraction was that things would become “simpler”. For the common man and professional, simplicity means having to deal with the government less and it is this metric that GST seems to be crucially falling short of. With a complicated slab of rates, effort-intensive compliance needs, esoteric definitions subject to myriad interpretations, and an unclear communication on the consequences of non-compliance, GST does not come across as “good and simple” yet.
Michael Bloomberg said, “Taxes are not good things, but if you want services, somebody’s got to pay for them so they’re a necessary evil.” No doubt, the average Indian understands that– the question is just how simple will the government make it for us to pay that tax?