‘GST Fil­ing may be Tweaked to Sim­plify It’

GSTN chair­man says govt has started to col­lect feed­back and reach­ing out to peo­ple

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New Delhi: The gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing a pro­posal to tweak the way peo­ple file their goods and ser­vices tax (GST) re­turns. The move, to cus­tomise the form as per the vary­ing re­quire­ments of the tax­payer, is ex­pected to sig­nif­i­cantly sim­plify the fil­ing process which has been crit­i­cised for be­ing com­plex and mired with glitches.

In an in­ter­view to ET, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, the newly-ap­pointed chair­man of the GST Net­work (GSTN), said in­stead of hav­ing a stan­dard form for ev­ery­one, users can be asked a few ques­tions upon sign­ing in and then the best­suited form can be dis­played as per their trans­ac­tions and na­ture of busi­ness. “We are look­ing at these op­tions so that the forms can be sim­pler,” he said.

The form in the sys­tem can be dy­nam­i­cally gen­er­ated and only the rel­e­vant por­tions which are ap­pli­ca­ble to a par­tic­u­lar dealer will be dis­played so that he won’t have any dif­fi­culty in fil­ing the re­turns, he said. “The ul­ti­mate aim is that the small tax pay­ers should be able to file the re­turns with­out much as­sis­tance from out­side,” added Pandey, who is also the CEO of the Unique Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Author­ity of In­dia (UIDAI), which ad­min­is­ters the Aad­haar pro­ject.

So far, 45 lakh peo­ple have filed GSTR 3B for the month of Septem­ber, while 56 lakh and 52 lakh have filed their re­turns for July and Au­gust, re­spec­tively.

De­spite the ini­tial teething trou­bles, 56 lakh deal­ers have filed re­turns on the GSTN por­tal, Pandey said. “It means that 56 lakh peo­ple some­how know how to file the re­turns on a new sys­tem. So pro­gres­sively more and more peo­ple will be able to come on the plat­form.” The gov­ern­ment has also started an ex­er­cise to col­lect feed­back and proac­tively reach out to peo­ple who have filed the re­turns to un­der­stand the na­ture of their con­cerns so that they can be rec­ti­fied. Pandey said as a first step, forms have to be sim­pli­fied.

For in­stance, some­one who doesn’t have an ex­port com­po­nent in his busi­ness should not have to deal with ex­port-re­lated co-

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lumns, or some­one who doesn’t have any in­ter­state trans­ac­tions should not see the re­lated ques­tions. “A very sim­ple form can be very dy­nam­i­cally gen­er­ated, depend­ing upon the na­ture of the trans­ac­tions. Sup­pose if I have not made any trans­ac­tion in a month, then I should have to just press a but­ton to file my re­turn, in­stead of fill­ing zero or nil at mul­ti­ple places,” Pandey said.

The ini­tial hic­cups in the sys­tem hap­pened be­cause peo­ple were not used to the new sys­tem, he said. Since the GST launch on July 1, the gov­ern­ment has taken sev­eral mea­sures to al­ter the tax struc­ture as well as the fil­ing process in or­der to make it less te­dious for busi­ness en­ti­ties to file their re­turns. “There are 35 states and union ter­ri­to­ries apart from ser­vice tax and ex­cise tax de­part­ments; so al­most 37 sys­tems had to mi­grate to one plat­form. With 90 lakh deal­ers and thou­sands of tax of­fi­cials along with so many tax prac­ti­tion­ers — nat­u­rally if you bring any change like this, peo­ple might face cer­tain dif­fi­cul­ties ini­tially,” Pandey said. Most of the peo­ple who are re­quired to pay the taxes have al­ready filed the re­turns, he said. The gov­ern­ment is also dis­cussing ways to re­duce the pe­ri­od­ic­ity of fil­ings of re­turns.

Pratik Jain, leader-indi­rect tax at PwC In­dia, said while it was a good idea to fur­ther sim­plify the form, the need of the hour was to sta­bilise the ex­ist­ing sys­tem be­fore in­tro­duc­ing any new changes. “The is­sue cur­rently is not too much com­plex­ity of the forms but the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges ex­pe­ri­enced on GSTN. It might be bet­ter to fo­cus on a thor­ough test­ing of GSTN to iron out cur­rent is­sues rather than in­tro­duc­ing new forms, etc., which may take more time to sta

bilise,” said Jain.

Ajay Bhushan Pandey

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