HSN an Overview
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System generally referred to as “Harmonized System of Nomenclature” or simply “HSN” is a multipurpose international product nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
It comprises about 5,000 commodity groups; each identified by a six digit code, arranged in a legal and logical structure and is supported by well-defined rules to achieve uniform classification.
The system is used by more than 200 countries and economies as a basis for their Customs tariffs and for the collection of international trade statistics. Over 98 % of the merchandise in international trade is classified in terms of the HS.
The HS contributes to the harmonization of Customs and trade procedures, and the non-documentary trade data interchange in connection with such procedures, thus reducing the costs related to international trade.
HSN in Indian Context
In Indian Context, a taxpayer having a turnover exceeding Rs 5 crore is required to follow the HSN code of 4 digits. In return form, rate of tax shall be auto populated based on the HSN codes used in furnishing invoice level purchase or sale information. After completing first year under GST, the turnover for previous year will be considered as baseline for using HSN codes of 4 digits. The use of HSN codes below its standards is to make GST systematic and globally accepted.
For taxpayers with turnover between Rs 1.5 Crores and Rs 5 Crores in the preceding financial year, HSN codes may be specified only at 2-digit chapter level as an optional exercise to start with. From second year of GST operations, mentioning 2-digit chapter level HSN Code will be mandatory for all taxpayers with turnover in previous financial year between Rs. 1.5 Crores and Rs. 5.0 Crores. HSN code at 2 digit will be little easy for taxpayers and make GST an international compatible tax as well.
Indian authorities have further categorized six digit HSN into another two digit sub chapter,thus making total number of digit to be eight. This eight digits code will be mandatory in case of export and imports under the GST regime.
The GST law has to be compatible with international standards. The concept of HSN codes was invented outside India and same is used by various member countries.
Refer: World Custom Organization