The Gujarat High Court has disposed petitions from Flipkart and Amazon which challenged the 6% entry tax into by the state government for goods purchased through e-commerce sites, following the recent Supreme Court verdict which upheld the validity of the imposition of entry tax into states, as indicated by the Economic Times.
Flipkart had sued the Gujarat government in April while Amazon had challenged the tax in courts in June. A report from the Economic Times said that Flipkart is fighting the entry tax in other states including Uttarakhand. We have written to Flipkart and Amazon for comments and will update this once we hear from them.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that states were well within their rights to impose an entry tax and could devise their own fiscal legislation. The court added a that a non-discriminatory tax, such as the entry tax, does not constitute a restriction on free trade and commerce as guaranteed by Article 301 of the Constitution. It also allowed petitions in lower courts in to rule upon validity of the laws framed by different state governments.
However, in September, the Patna High Court had ruled that entry tax on ecommerce companies in Bihar is unconstitutional and illegal. A case was filed by Flipkart through its logistics subsidiary Instakart. Lawyers arguing for the Bihar government said that the entry tax was compensatory in nature and that it had power to impose such a discriminatory tax. The Patna High Court court said that the entry tax made a discrimination against the dealer of one state and another and in violation of the constitutional provisions in Article 304 (a).
Article 304 (a) of the constitution says that there cannot be restrictions on trade between states which discriminate between goods imported and goods manufactured or produced.
In June, Madhya Pradesh joined seven other states – Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, West Bengal, and Mizoram – which imposed entry tax citing loss of revenues.
Goods and services tax
In August, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed in Parliament and ecommerce companies widely welcomed the move which would bring significant clarity and cut excessive taxation. For ecommerce and logistics companies, it would reduce the barriers for interstate deliveries.
However, a major pain point could emerge with at source tax collection which may create issues between sellers and ecommerce companies. According to the GST Bill, every operator will furnish an electronic statement of all amounts collected towards outward supplies of goods and services during a month. The state in which the order is delivered will get the tax for the sale, not where the order was booked from. For example, if a customer books an order in Maharashtra and asks for it to be delivered in Bangalore, ecommerce companies should ensure that Karnataka’s tax must be applied and not Maharashtra’s.