Understanding IGST (Integrated Goods and Services Tax): Exploring its Types and Implications

Understanding IGST (Integrated Goods and Services Tax): Exploring its Types and Implications

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Taxes can be really complex and need to be changed to fit the economy. This is especially important as countries trade with each other. In India, they made a big change in 2017 with the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which changed the taxation system of India. This helped make taxes simpler. The Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) is a big part of this change, making sure transactions between states go smoothly.

In this article, we examine the idea of IGST, its variations, and its effects on companies as well as the Indian economy.

What Is IGST?

In India, a comprehensive tax known as the Integrated Products and Services Tax (IGST) is imposed on the delivery of products and services that cross state lines. It is one of the three elements of the Goods and Services Tax, along with the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) and the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST).

The Integrated Goods and Services Tax Act of 2017 governs IGST, which was created to synchronise the taxation of cross-state transactions involving the transportation of goods and services.

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What are the Types of IGST?

IGST can be broadly classified into two categories, each catering to specific scenarios of transactions involving goods and services across state borders:

  1. Inter-state Supply of Goods

    This type of IGST is applicable when goods are supplied from one state in India to another. When a business or individual sells goods to a buyer located in a different state, IGST is levied on the transaction. The tax collected goes to the central government, and the destination state receives its share through a mechanism called the Integrated Tax Settlement.

  2. Import and Export of Goods and Services

    IGST is also applicable to import and export activities. When goods are imported into India from another country, IGST is levied at the point of entry. Similarly, when goods and services are exported from India to another country, IGST is applied at the time of supply.

    However, the export of goods and services is considered a “zero-rated supply”, meaning businesses can claim a refund on the IGST paid during the export process, thus promoting Indian goods and services in international markets.

How Does IGST Work?

The IGST mechanism is designed to ensure a seamless and transparent flow of taxes across states and transactions. When a transaction subject to IGST is executed, the tax amount is calculated based on the applicable tax rate and is paid to the central government.

The destination state, which receives the goods or services, does not directly collect IGST but receives its share through the Integrated Tax Settlement mechanism.

The IGST mechanism involves the following key steps:

  1. Collection

    The seller collects IGST from the buyer on the invoice value of the goods or services supplied in an inter-state transaction.

  2. Distribution

    The IGST collected is divided into two components – the central portion (CGST) and the portion for the destination state (SGST). This distribution is facilitated through the Integrated Tax Settlement.

  3. Transfer

    The central portion (CGST) is retained by the central government, while the portion meant for the destination state (SGST) is transferred to the respective state.

  4. Input Tax Credit

    Businesses that pay IGST on their purchases can claim an input tax credit against their output tax liability, including both CGST and SGST. This helps prevent cascading taxation and reduces the overall tax burden on businesses.

  5. Refunds

    In the case of exports, where goods or services are considered zero-rated supplies, businesses can apply for a refund of the IGST paid during the export process. This enhances the competitiveness of Indian products in the global market.

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Implications for Businesses and the Economy

The introduction of IGST has brought about several significant implications for businesses and the Indian economy as a whole:

  1. Simplified Tax Structure

    IGST has simplified the taxation process for inter-state transactions by eliminating the complexities of multiple tax layers that existed prior to the GST regime. This reduction in tax complexity has led to greater ease of doing business across state borders.

  2. Efficient Cross-Border Transactions

    With a standardised tax rate applicable to inter-state supplies, businesses can now plan and execute transactions more efficiently, without the need to navigate varying tax structures across states.

  3. Reduced Tax Evasion

    The unified GST system, including IGST, has improved tax compliance and reduced opportunities for tax evasion. The integration of technology through the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) has enabled better monitoring of transactions.

  4. Boost Exports

    IGST's zero-rated supply status for exports has made Indian goods and services more competitive in international markets. Businesses can claim refunds on taxes paid during the export process, making their products more affordable for foreign buyers.

  5. Uniformity and Transparency

    The uniform application of IGST ensures transparency in taxation, benefitting both businesses and consumers. This transparency helps in building trust and confidence in the taxation system.

  6. Revenue Distribution

    IGST promotes a seamless flow of revenue between states and the central government. The integrated tax settlement mechanism ensures that the destination state receives its rightful share of taxes collected on inter-state supplies.

Challenges and Future Developments

While IGST has brought about significant improvements to India's taxation system, there are still challenges to address:

  1. IT Infrastructure

    The successful implementation of IGST relies heavily on robust IT infrastructure to track and process transactions. Continual investment in technology is essential to maintain the efficiency of the system.

  2. Awareness and Training

    Businesses need to be educated about the intricacies of IGST and how to navigate the system effectively. Regular training and awareness campaigns can help reduce errors and improve compliance.

  3. Cross-border Disputes

    In some cases, determining the origin and destination of goods or services can lead to disputes, impacting the smooth flow of transactions. Clear guidelines and dispute resolution mechanisms are vital to address such issues.

  4. Export Refunds

    The timely processing of export refund claims is crucial to support businesses engaged in international trade. Streamlining the refund process can further boost exports.


An important part of India's Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime is the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST). The IGST has significantly improved the business environment while also aiming to harmonise and simplify the taxation of interstate transactions.

The IGST is vital in encouraging economic growth since it streamlines cross-border transactions, lowers tax evasion, encourages exports, and ensures revenue distribution. Like any tax system, ongoing issues persist that necessitate continued investment in technology, training, and dispute resolution procedures.

The IGST will continue to be a key component of India's taxation system as the economy develops, promoting easy trade across state boundaries and bolstering the country's trajectory of growth.


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