1. Abstract:

    This article provides an in-depth exploration of the tax liabilities under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) law in India, focusing on various scenarios and their implications for both businesses and individuals. It delves into the legal background, highlighting the two mechanisms—Forward Charge Mechanism (FCM) and Reverse Charge Mechanism (RCM)—that dictate who bears the responsibility for paying GST. The article navigates through specific situations, analyzing the provisions under Sections 85 to 94 of the CGST Act, 2017, to determine the entities or individuals liable for outstanding taxes.


    The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India brought about a transformative shift in the taxation landscape. However, clarity on the payment of outstanding taxes, especially in complex scenarios, was a challenge. This article aims to demystify the legal intricacies surrounding GST liabilities, providing insights into specific situations and the corresponding responsibilities defined by the law.

    Legal Background:

    Under the GST law, the responsibility to pay taxes is divided into two mechanisms:

    1. Forward Charge Mechanism (FCM):
      • Responsibility: Rests on the Supplier of Goods and Services.
    2. Reverse Charge Mechanism (RCM):
      • Responsibility: Shifts to the Recipient of specified goods and services.

    While the GST law has clarified the primary liability in most cases, historical ambiguities in past indirect tax laws necessitated further legal provisions to define responsibilities, particularly in situations involving business transfers, amalgamations, and liquidations.

    Specific Liability and Implications:

    1. Liability in case of Transfer of Business [Section 85]:

      • Scope: Joint and several liability of the transferor and transferee for unpaid taxes up to the date of transfer.
      • Implications: The transferee assumes responsibility for past tax liabilities, even those determined after the transfer, fostering clarity in business acquisitions.
    2. Liability in case of Principal-Agent Relations [Section 86]:

      • Scope: Joint and several liability of both principal and agent for taxes on supplied or received goods.
      • Implications: Establishes a clear connection between principal-agent dynamics and tax liabilities, ensuring accountability in business relationships.
    3. Liability in case of Retrospective Order for Amalgamation or Merger [Section 87]:

      • Scope: Allocates the turnover of supplies before the court order to the respective merging companies.
      • Implications: Ensures equitable distribution of tax liabilities in retrospective amalgamation or merger scenarios.
    4. Liability in case of Liquidating Companies [Section 88]:

      • Scope: Liquidator’s duty to intimate the commissioner and set aside funds for GST dues.
      • Implications: Safeguards GST dues in the liquidation process, holding directors liable if funds are insufficient, subject to certain conditions.
    5. Liabilities of Director of Private Company [Section 89]:

      • Scope: Directors’ joint and several liability for GST dues of a private company unable to pay.
      • Implications: Strengthens accountability of directors in private companies, ensuring GST arrears are addressed before conversion to a public company.
    6. Liability in case of Partners of Firm [Section 90]:

      • Scope: Joint and several liability of all partners for GST arrears of a partnership firm.
      • Implications: Establishes collective responsibility among partners, surpassing any contrary contractual arrangements.
    7. Liability of Guardians, Trustees, etc. [Section 91]:

      • Scope: Imposes liability on guardians, trustees, or agents for GST arrears in businesses operated for the benefit of minors.
      • Implications: Prevents evasion of penalties through business operations under the guise of minors’ benefits.
    8. Liability of Courts of Wards, Receiver, Trustee, Manager, Administrator General, etc. [Section 92]:

      • Scope: Holds responsible the entity in control of the estate of a taxable person for GST arrears.
      • Implications: Ensures that entities overseeing estates are accountable for outstanding GST dues.
    9. Liability in case of Death, Partition, or Dissolution [Section 93]:

      • Scope: Varied liabilities in case of death, partition, or dissolution, ensuring continuity of responsibility.
      • Implications: Prevents evasion of GST dues in scenarios involving death, partition, or dissolution, subject to certain conditions.
    10. Liability in Residual Cases [Section 94]:

    • Scope: Addresses discontinuation and change of constitution, holding partners or members liable for outstanding GST.
    • Implications: Fills the legal gap to ensure that GST arrears are not left unpaid due to changes in business structures.


    The detailed analysis of GST liabilities in specific scenarios reflects a robust legal framework aimed at preventing evasion and ensuring fair distribution of responsibilities. These provisions not only bring clarity to ambiguous situations but also strengthen the foundations of the GST regime. As businesses evolve and face various transformations, these legal provisions serve as pillars of accountability, fostering transparency and compliance in the dynamic landscape of taxation.