It’s the Golden Age for Indian CAs
Consensus seems to be that a lot of people are complaining that we have to file too many goods and services tax (GST) returns. My problem is the opposite. I am unhappy that GST filing requirement is only three times a month. That’s too few.
Just when I decided that in the age of disappearing software jobs, reduced economic numbers and absent growth rates, my real calling — away from comedy — was to be a person who files GST things. There’s huge potential there. Nobody knows what they are filing so the act of filing itself can be an art.
Yes, there have been lots of GST presentations at many companies. When you leave one of those sessions, it feels like a peek into US President Donald Trump’s brain: confusing, mad and unpredictable.
There’s also another similarity with the US president. You have to file the returns almost as often as Trump tweets. And what you’ll file currently has the same coherence as his tweets: that is, zero. The only difference is, you don’t leave Donald Trump’s brain poorer than when you peeked into it. Here, you do.
Before GST happened, everyone said, ‘Well, theoretically, one tax for one nation is way better than all those many that existed.’ Now people are saying, ‘We all agree something happened. And something needs to be done about what happened. But we’re not quite sure what.’
The only equivalent from regular life I can think of is if you theoretically believe it is better to be clothed than naked and suddenly, without warning, a naked person runs past you with someone desperately trying to put a jacket on him. That’s how I’d summarise the past month of GST.
People are so uncertain about what to do next that I could say right now that the app and website to file one’s GST are open and, ‘We need to upload it right now!’ Or I could say, ‘We need to upload it every alternative 17 days and only on Reliance Jio phones!’ And you’d probably believe both.
The government and the people are in a game of a romantic first date with the former saying, ‘Right, my app is ready. File now.’ And we’re saying, ‘No, you explain what we’re filing. I don’t understand. What’s an input credit?’
The result being we’re all stuck in a chicken-and-egg game and no one is crossing the road.
Many years ago, someone had coin- ed the phrase, ‘The medium is the message’. Here, the filing of the returns is more detailed than the tax itself. Given that our tax payment numbers, compared to other countries, are so low, the Indian government may feel the act itself should be repeated so often that it becomes a habit. Like showering.
Doesn’t matter if you don’t actually owe any tax. As a financial expert explained, “Say, I have nil earnings. I am still filing some three returns a month saying I have nil earnings. Not only is it cumbersome, it is a three-time reminder that I am a loser.”
The1990s may have been the golden age of Indian technology. But this is, indeed, the golden age of the Indian chartered accountant. My hope is that the GST filing is made daily. And it isn’t just limited to goods and services. It could be an extended note to cover how I felt that day, emotionally, financially, matrimonially, Excelwise, otherwise — and submitted as a note to the government, linked to my Aadhaar card, so that the government knows how every citizen is doing that day, like any worried mother would.
So, in the future, it would be the only return that came back with the note, ‘Eat more vegetables, you look unfit.’
Count our blessings