sit amet. Aut praesentium molestiae sit amet consectetur id consequuntur velit ×

Applicability of GST on Software and Software Service Supply

avatar of saurabh agrawal
By Saurabh Agrawal
7 min read

Applicability of GST on Software and Software Service Supply

Key Takeaways

  • GST has unified the tax structure for the software industry, simplifying compliance and operational processes for businesses engaged in development, sale, and export of software and software services.
  • Understanding GST’s applicability on software services is essential for IT sector stakeholders to navigate tax compliance effectively and leverage benefits like input tax credits and simplified interstate transactions.
  • Exports of software services are treated as zero-rated supplies under GST, enabling exporters to compete globally without the burden of domestic taxes and to claim refunds on input taxes, enhancing cost competitiveness.
  • The GST regime requires adherence to specific documentation and procedural requirements for exporters, including compliance with zero-rated supply provisions and the option to supply services under a Letter of Undertaking (LUT) or a bond.
  • The GST framework categorizes software and software services under specific HSN/SAC codes with a standard GST rate of 18%, impacting both businesses and consumers by simplifying the tax structure and clarifying the cost implications of software services.

India’s IT industry, especially the software industry, has been affected by the GST system in a big way. As a result of moving to a unified tax system, many things have changed for businesses that make, sell, and export software and software services. These changes have an impact on all areas, from setting prices to making sure businesses follow the rules.

In the IT area, people need to know how GST changes software and software services. It makes it easy for businesses to pay their taxes and also makes sure they can use the GST framework’s benefits, such as input tax credits and simpler trade between states. Also, since India’s export earnings come from the IT sector, the effects of GST on software exports are very important. This includes things like zero-rated supply and the situations in which they can be claimed.

Applicability of GST on the Export of Software Services

applicability of gst on the export of software

India’s software business has become a major player on the international market thanks to globalization. This makes service exports an important part of the country’s economy. A lot has changed in how these exports are handled under the new tax system since the Goods and Services Tax (GST) went into effect. Companies need to know how GST changes the sale of software services so they can follow the rules and get the benefits that are meant to make India’s products more competitive.

Under the GST framework, the export of software services is classified as a “zero-rated supply.” This classification is pivotal for exporters because it means that while the supply of services are subject to GST, the rate applied is effectively zero. This part of the law makes sure that exporters can fight on the global market without having to worry about domestic taxes driving up their prices.

Refund Mechanism

One of the most significant benefits of the zero-rated supply classification is the eligibility for a refund of input taxes. Businesses engaged in the export of services can file for refund application for the GST paid on inputs or input services used to deliver the exported service. This mechanism is designed to prevent the cascading effect of taxes, ensuring that the cost competitiveness of Indian software services is maintained in the international market.

Refund Mechanism

One of the most significant benefits of the zero-rated supply classification is the eligibility for a refund of input taxes. Businesses engaged in the export of services can file for refund application for the GST paid on inputs or input services used to deliver the exported service. This mechanism is designed to prevent the cascading effect of taxes, ensuring that the cost competitiveness of Indian software services is maintained in the international market.

Export Documentation and Compliance

To avail of the benefits associated with zero-rated supplies, exporters must comply with all the documentation and procedural requirements. This includes furnishing details of exports in their GST returns, maintaining records of export invoices, and providing proof of receipt of foreign currency as consideration for the services rendered. Compliance with these requirements is essential for the smooth processing of refunds and for avoiding any potential legal hurdles.

LUT/Bond Requirement

Exporters of software services have the option to supply their services under a Letter of Undertaking (LUT) or a bond, without having to pay GST at the time of export. This facility is intended to ease the cash flow for exporters by exempting them from the upfront payment of GST. To avail of this benefit, exporters must meet certain eligibility criteria and furnish the LUT/bond in the prescribed format and manner.

Must Read  GST Rate for Photography and Videography Services

HSN Code and GST Rate on Software and Software Services

hsn code on software

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in India categorizes goods and services under the Harmonized System of Nomenclature (HSN) and Service Accounting Code (SAC) respectively, to standardize the taxation process.

Software and software services, being a significant part of the digital economy, are also classified under this system, which determines their applicable GST rates. Understanding these classifications is crucial for both businesses and consumers to ensure compliance and to accurately calculate their tax liabilities.

For Businesses

HSN/SAC Codes: Software and software services for business use are primarily classified under the SAC (Services Accounting Code) because they are considered services. The general SAC code for software services is 998313, which covers software development, supply, and technical support services.

GST Rate: The GST rate for software and software services is typically set at 18%. This encompasses a wide range of services including software development, implementation, maintenance, and consulting services provided to businesses. The uniform rate simplifies the tax structure for IT services, making it easier for businesses to manage their tax liabilities.

Businesses can avail of Input Tax Credit (ITC) on the GST paid for software services if these services are used for the furtherance of business. This provision significantly reduces the cost of acquiring software services by allowing businesses to deduct the tax paid on inputs from their tax liability on outputs.

For Consumers

HSN/SAC Codes: The same SAC code applies to software services provided to consumers. However, the distinction between goods and services blurs in the case of software, especially when it comes to downloadable software or Software as a Service (SaaS). The classification depends on the nature of the transaction and the mode of delivery.

GST Rate: The GST rate for software services provided to consumers is also 18%. This rate applies regardless of whether the software is purchased off-the-shelf, downloaded online, or accessed through a cloud-based platform. The uniformity in GST rates for both businesses and consumers simplifies the tax structure, making it transparent and easy to understand.

For consumers, the GST paid on software services is a final cost, as they are not eligible to claim Input Tax Credit. This emphasizes the importance of understanding the tax implications of software purchases, as it affects the overall cost of the software or service.

💡If you are looking for ways to pay your GST bill with credit card, then download Pice Business Payment App. Pice is a one stop app for all business payments.

Input Tax Credit (ITC) Availability on GST for Software

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in India has been a game-changer for businesses, especially in terms of tax credits. One of the most beneficial features of GST is the Input Tax Credit (ITC), which allows businesses to reduce their tax liability by claiming credit for the tax paid on inputs. This feature is particularly relevant for businesses purchasing software or software services, as it directly impacts their cost and tax compliance strategies.

Understanding ITC on Software

ITC on software refers to the GST paid on the purchase of software or software services that can be used to reduce the GST liability on the sale of goods or services. This is applicable whether the software is purchased off-the-shelf, custom-developed, or accessed through cloud-based services (Software as a Service – SaaS).

Eligibility for Claiming ITC

To be eligible for claiming ITC on software, businesses must ensure that:

  1. The software is used for business purposes: The GST paid on software purchases can only be claimed as ITC if the software is used in the course or furtherance of business. This includes software used for processing, accounting, CRM, or any other business-related functions.
  2. Possession of a valid tax invoice: Businesses must have a valid tax invoice or debit note issued by a registered supplier as proof of GST payment on the software or software services.
  3. GST Returns: The GST paid on software purchases must be reported in the GST returns filed by the business. This ensures that the claim for ITC is documented and processed as part of the business’s tax filings.
  4. Payment for the software: The ITC can only be claimed after the payment for the software or software service, including the GST, has been made to the supplier.

Impact of GST on Export of Software services from India

Provision for GST on EXPORT of SERVICE/ GOODS. With payment of tax or without payment of tax.

The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India marked a significant shift in the tax structure, affecting various sectors, including the Information Technology (IT) sector. This sector, known for its substantial contribution to India’s GDP and export earnings, has experienced both challenges and opportunities under the GST regime. The impact of GST on the Indian IT sector can be analyzed from multiple dimensions, including operational, financial, and compliance perspectives.

Must Read  Decoding GST for Bodies Corporate

Simplification of Tax Structure

Positive Impact: One of the most notable impacts of GST on the IT sector is the simplification of the tax structure. Prior to GST, the sector was burdened with multiple taxes, including VAT, service tax, and excise, which varied from state to state. GST has unified these into a single tax, streamlining the process and making it easier for IT companies, especially those operating across multiple states, to comply with tax regulations.

Operational Efficiency: The simplified tax structure under GST has enhanced operational efficiency by reducing the administrative burden associated with managing various state-level taxes. This has been particularly beneficial for IT service providers who often deliver projects across different states and even globally.

Increase in Compliance and Administrative Costs

Challenge: While GST has streamlined tax processes, it has also led to an increase in compliance and administrative costs, especially for smaller IT firms. The requirement to file monthly and annual returns, along with the need to maintain detailed records of input tax credits, has imposed an additional burden on companies. This has necessitated investments in GST-compliant accounting software and sometimes, the hiring of additional staff or consultants to manage compliance.

Impact on Pricing and Contracts

Adjustments Required: The IT sector has had to adjust its pricing and contract structures to accommodate the GST. This includes revising contracts with clients to include GST and re-negotiating terms to factor in the tax implications. For the export-oriented segments of the IT sector, understanding the zero-rated supply provisions and ensuring compliance to avail benefits has been crucial.

impact of gst on pricing and contracts

Input Tax Credit (ITC) Benefits

Financial Advantage: A significant positive impact of GST on the IT sector is the availability of Input Tax Credit (ITC). IT companies can now claim ITC on the GST paid on inputs and input services, which was not fully available under the previous tax regime. This has led to a reduction in the overall cost of operations, as companies can offset their GST liabilities against the tax paid on inputs, including technology software purchases, hardware, and other services.

Impact on Exports

Global Competitiveness: The IT sector, being a major exporter, has benefited from the provisions related to zero-rated supplies under GST. Exported IT services are treated as zero-rated, allowing companies to file refund applications on the input tax paid, thereby enhancing their competitiveness in the global market.

GST on Exports: Implementation and Levies

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in India has brought about significant changes in the taxation of exports, including software and IT services. Exports are treated as zero-rated supplies under GST, allowing exporters to either supply goods or services without the payment of tax or under a bond or Letter of Undertaking (LUT) and claim a refund of the Input Tax Credit (ITC).

gst on exports- implementation and levies

This framework is designed to enhance the competitiveness of Indian exports in the global market. Within this context, the concept of “deemed exports” under GST holds particular importance, offering specific benefits under certain conditions.

Deemed Exports

Deemed exports refer to certain types of supply of goods that do not leave the country, and the payment for such supplies is received either in Indian rupees or in convertible foreign exchange. These are considered exports under the GST law, even though the goods do not actually cross Indian borders. The rationale behind deemed exports is to treat certain domestic supplies, which can be equated to export supplies, under the zero-rated tax umbrella, thereby providing a tax refund mechanism similar to that available for actual exports.

Key Features of Deemed Exports:

  • Tax Refund: Suppliers making deemed exports can claim a refund of the GST paid on such supplies, similar to the refund available for actual exports.
  • Input Tax Credit: The recipient of deemed exports can avail of the ITC on the GST paid, enhancing the cost-effectiveness of these transactions for the recipient.

Conditions and Eligibility for Deemed Export Status

The eligibility for a transaction to be classified as a deemed export is subject to specific conditions outlined in the GST laws. These conditions are designed to ensure that the benefits of deemed exports are targeted and do not lead to unintended tax advantages.

Key Conditions Include:

  1. Notification by the Government: The goods supplied under the deemed export category must be notified as such by the Government of India. This includes goods supplied to an Export Oriented Unit (EOU) or under certain government schemes.
  2. Location of Goods: The goods supplied as deemed exports must not leave India. The transaction is considered domestic, but the nature of the supply is such that it qualifies for deemed export status.
  3. Payment: Payment for deemed exports must be made in Indian rupees or in convertible foreign exchange. This ensures that the financial transactions align with the criteria for exports under the GST framework.
  4. Documentation and Compliance: Suppliers and recipients involved in deemed export transactions must comply with specific documentation requirements, including furnishing evidence of payment in the prescribed currency and other relevant details to qualify for the tax benefits.
  5. Application for Refund: To avail of the benefits under deemed exports, the supplier or recipient needs to apply for a refund of the GST paid on such supplies. The application process involves submitting prescribed documents and fulfilling the conditions laid out by the GST authorities.
Must Read  Input Service Distributor (ISD) under GST


What is the reverse charge method?

The reverse charge method is a mechanism in GST where the recipient of goods or services becomes liable to pay the tax instead of the supplier. This method is typically applied in cases where the supplier is not registered under GST or in specified cases of import of services or goods. It shifts the responsibility of tax payment and compliance from the seller to the buyer.

What is normal charge and reverse charge?

Normal charge refers to the standard method under GST where the supplier of goods or services is responsible for collecting and remitting the tax to the government. In contrast, the reverse charge is a mechanism where the recipient of the goods or services is liable to pay the GST directly to the government, instead of the supplier. This shift in responsibility is designated for specific transactions by the GST law.

Who is exempt from e-way bill?

E-way bill exemptions include the transportation of goods where the value does not exceed Rs. 50,000. Additionally, certain goods specified by the GST council, such as live animals, currency, and organic manure among others, are exempt from the e-way bill requirements. Transport of goods within specified distances and by non-motorized conveyance are also exempted.

Is GST applicable on software services?

Yes, GST is applicable on software services in India. Software services, whether provided as packaged software or through cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a Service) models, attract GST. The rate has been standardized at 18% for software services, aligning with the tax rate for most services under GST.

What is the GST code for software services?

The GST code for software services falls under the Service Accounting Code (SAC) system. The SAC code for software services is generally 998313, which is used for information technology (IT) consulting and support services, including software development and management services.

Is supply of software a good or service?

The supply of software can be classified as either a good or a service depending on the context of the transaction. Packaged or canned software sold off-the-shelf is generally treated as goods, while customized software solutions and software delivered electronically (e.g., through cloud services or downloads) are considered services under GST.

What is the GST limit for service industry?

The GST registration threshold for the service industry is Rs. 20 lakhs for most states in India, and Rs. 10 lakhs for special category states (North-Eastern states, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand). This means that service providers with an annual turnover exceeding these limits are required to register for GST and comply with its provisions.

Scroll to Top