Update: The government has now allowed online sellers the same exemption from having to register for GST as regular sellers. So I am once more selling soaps and carnivorous plants.
This blog is basically about the stuff I am up to at home. When I make artistic soaps because I enjoy making them, I sell the surplus, because there is only so much bathing one can do. When I grow plants (mostly carnivorous, but some others too), I sell those I grow in excess and seeds so that people interested in these hard to find plants can obtain them and grow them themselves. I’ve spent far more than I’ve earned on both h0bbies, but the purpose of doing them was never to do big business. Could I expand if I wanted to? Sure. But I am a loner, thinker at heart. Spending my day selling stuff is not a vision I hold for myself.
The little money I did get was spent right back on obtaining more obscure plants. Usually from abroad, because the irony of carnivorous plants growing in India is that even as their habitats die, unlike in other countries, enthusiastic citizens have not taken up growing them in private collections. So today, if you want to buy a drosera indica or its seeds, you end up buying from abroad – a plant that natively grows in India and is, in fact named such. There are a few carnivorous plant sellers. All of them online. There simply isn’t enough of a market nationwide for individual sellers to chalk up say…. 20 lakhs in sales a year. Let alone profit.
There are maybe a dozen sellers in the country – 4-5 that I know of. Perhaps a few hundred enthusiasts to buy from them. Maybe a few thousand. Nationwide. I would be surprised if any of the businesses chalk up stunning profits. This is a hobby of lovers. The sales may make minor profits for those who invest space and money, but for the large part in a country where agriculture itself is a loss making proposition, the possibility of obscure carnivorous plants raking in the moolah is remote. Most of us hobbyists, delling as individuals wouldn’t even need to register a business unless there was a proper nursery involved. Certainly not the likes of me, growing plants in my balcony.
But the GST is an odd thing. To sell anything at all online. No matter the amount, you must register and file returns. This would involve creating the paperwork for a business, filing GST for every state that happened to have a person buy a soap or two from me, and generally spending more on paperwork than the actual materials I invested in or profits I made.
It is not worth it. The government clearly wants only people who do business in lakhs of rupees only to be enabled for online business or to pay a disproportionate amount for the right to do it legally. It amounts to charging citizens for the right to sell in the country outside whatever locality they are in. This will discourage businesses with a turnover of less than 20 lakhs, which will be prevented from growing from exposure to nationwide sales unless they take the gamble of committing to filing GST foreverafter in order to find out.
In my view, the GST is unjust to small sellers and particularly seeks to destroy small online sellers. But I am not enough of a businessman to make this battle mine.
So here is what I am doing. This site no longer sells anything. If you wish to buy, you may come over and meet me locally and buy from me, or get someone to buy locally from me and send it to you. I can pack for shipping.
Alternatively, I can send you gifts of soaps and plants, if you gift me things I covet. No money will exchange hands. Hobbyists trading in things is hardly business. And it is pretty much the scale of what I am up to. Feel free to email me at email@example.com and see what sort of an exchange can be worked out, if you liike something on this site. I suppose I no longer have to limit myself to India.
Also people who help sponsor my writing on aamjanata.com will be entitled to a token gift from here.
Let us see how this goes. Will really be a pity if hobbyists are successfully strangled by the govt.
Thread about the whole thing on Twitter.
So I finally read the GST thing and decided that business is not a viable idea for me/small online. I'll spend more on paperwork than I earn
— You may call me V (@Vidyut) September 21, 2017
4 thoughts on “No longer selling soaps or carnivorous plants because of GST”
I understand that GST is a small business killer. But if you had explained it with more concrete math, it would be a good slap in the govt’s face. Can you please just post some actual Math. i.e what would be your profits before GST VS after GST taking one month accounting as an example. And you do not have to file taxes and paperwork in all the states, but have to do so online. (of course the online portal is not working, that is another story)
That is the thing. There are no profits. This is a hobbyist’s shop. I only sell what I have to spare. Maybe there will be profits in the future, but right now, I spend more on the hobby than anything I earn. It is absurd to have to register for GST over it. I won’t have to pay a single rupee in tax – I simply am not eligible. But compliance will come with costs anyway. Even if there were profits, why should online sellers face the discrimination of having to file GST from the start if the vast majority of the sellers in the country are exempt under 20 lakhs? There is no maths to it. If there is a valid reason to discriminate against online sellers, state it upfront. Still, absolutely any selling requiring GST makes no sense.
I have planted घेवडा seeds just some days ago and they are sprouting. I dropped a few dates seeds too and it too sprouted. Do you know how I increase the quality of soil? By dropping कणी कोंडा (ज्वारीपीठ चाळल्यानंतर जो कचरा राहतो तो) in the कुंडी. I also add raw vegetable leftovers like peels and देठाचे तुकडे (forgive my Marathi in between). I will send pics of घेवड्याच्या शेंगा) when it comes. I often tweet to you with different tweeter names. Changing names is my hobby! LOL
I read Marathi, so that is not a problem 😀
That sounds like a good system you have going there (He uses the husk/bran left in the sieve after sifting jowar flour directly in his pots to improve the fertility of the soil – that’s the Marathi bit), I also use these things, but I have a lot of pots, so I have two large compost bins I fill alternately. But yes, pretty much everything that can decompose goes into them and it works out way better than purchased fertilizers in terms of results.
I have also found that manure purchased online is sometimes not adequately composted. The few occasions I have bought it, I have added the remaining to the compost bin to spend some time there, after burning a few plants.