GST and E-way bills have been significant policy changes implemented by the Indian Government to reform the taxation system and ensure the efficient movement of goods across the country. While these changes have a widespread impact on businesses, their effects on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) have been particularly noteworthy.
SEZs are designated areas within India that are subject to specific laws and regulations designed to encourage export-oriented industries and boost economic growth. The new tax system has led to changes in how businesses operate within the SEZs, including changes in documentation, compliance requirements, and tax liability. Additionally, the E-way bill system has created new challenges for businesses regarding transportation and logistics.
A Special Economic Zone is a designated area where businesses can comply with the law more easily and pay easy taxes. Special Economic Zones are found within the country’s boundaries, but to differentiate them from the regular taxation system, they are treated as foreign countries.
This is why the supplies transported to and from the special economic zones are handled slightly differently than usual. Simply put, even though the special economic zones are a part of India, they are considered foreign countries.
According to this, any supply transported to or from a special economic zone is considered an interstate supply, and IGST will be applied to such transactions.
Since the Special Economic Zones are considered foreign territories, the transactions can be called exports and imports:
Exports refer to the supply of goods outside India from a special economic zone irrespective of the mode of transportation. It also refers to the supply of goods from one unit or developer in a special economic zone to another unit or developer within the same special economic zone or another special economic zone.
Imports refer to the supply of goods transacted to a special economic zone from a foreign country, irrespective of the mode of transport. It also refers to receiving goods from one unit or developer in a special economic zone to another unit or developer located within the special economic zone or to another special economic zone.
When it comes to taxes, living in one of the SEZs can be helpful to some extent. Supply of goods or services or both to an SEZ unit or developer is regarded as zero-rated. This implies that these supplies are GST-free. In other words, supplies made to SEZ have been deemed exports and are not subject to GST. So, the manufacturers and distributors of goods for SEZ can:
When a Special Economic Zone supplies goods or services or both, it will be regarded as an inter-state supply and subjected to IGST.
The only exception to this rule is when an SEZ supplies goods, services, or both to a Domestic Tariff Area (DTA). In this case, the SEZ will be excused from paying import taxes and customs charges because this is considered an export to the DTA.
When transporting goods, transporters registered under GST must carry an e-way bill for goods being transported of value greater than Rs. 50,000. SEZ goods are handled similarly to other interstate goods. SEZ units or developers must also follow e-way bill practices that other businesses in the same industry follow. When supplies are sent from an SEZ to a DTA or another place, the registered person who facilitates the flow of goods is required to generate e-way bills.
The introduction of GST and E-way bills has significantly impacted businesses operating within Special Economic Zones in India. The new tax system has led to compliance requirements and tax liability changes for these businesses. The E-way bill system has also created challenges for transportation and logistics.
However, by understanding these challenges and taking appropriate measures, businesses operating within SEZs can adapt to the new tax system and ensure compliance. The success of businesses in SEZs depends on their ability to navigate these changes and optimise their operations to remain competitive.