Will GST simplify the country’s tax regime?

Source: Sakal Times

The announcement of certain concessions in terms of filing of returns for the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is scheduled for rollout from July 1, has led to greater confidence and preparedness for the new tax regime among people. While the first round of returns was to be filed on August 10, the deadline has been extended by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, bringing much needed relief to the common man.

There was a tremendous pressure on the government as well as the citizens to get it right and the relaxation provided by the GST Council on Sunday has gone a long way in raising the acceptance levels among the business and traders. Speaking to Sakal Times, Treasurer of The Institute of Cost Accountants of India, Pune Chapter, CMA Meena Vaidya said, “People are still preparing for the implementation of GST as there will be ample changes in the filing pattern and returns format.

People were fearful of making mistakes while filing the returns digitally and thus were unprepared. But, now that the GST Council has provided a concession of three months for return filing and made provisions to rectify mistakes made while filing, people are now accepting the new tax regime.” GST has given way to a single tax regime across the country, doing away with multiple indirect taxes that were being levied including Sales Tax, Service Tax, Excise Duty and others. The tax reform, which is being termed as the biggest tax reform since Independence, is expected to simplify the complicated indirect tax structure prevalent in the country.

However, Vinod Parmar from Vayana Network said that there is still certain confusion among people about the data format and what is to be filed before the new deadline and what to file by then. “The last GST Council meeting, while relaxing the deadline, has stated that filing of summary returns per month is necessary. This is a completely new story and people are blank about the data format for filing of these summary returns and are waiting for clarity on the same. Due to this, the Small and Micro Enterprises (SME) are still waiting for their chartered accountants (CA) to tell them what is to be done. People are awaiting guidelines on the genuine course of action,” he said.

He, however, also said that people now know that GST is happening and there is a race to be ready and larger corporates are moving at a much faster pace to be ready for the implementation.

Partner, Indirect Tax, KPMG, India, Waman Parkhi said that the pushing forward of the deadline for filing of returns has brought substantial relief to the government as well as people. “The government has come out with the final rules only last week and codes of software could be written only once the rules were finalised. The IT infrastructure is still not ready and this one month breathing period has provided relief as there is time to develop and beta test the softwares before the filing begins,” he said.
Parkhi said that there are still several grey areas for which clarifications are required. “For example, there is no clarity on the Foreign Trade Policy Scheme under GST. Or people don’t know which government they are going to work with or whether they have to work with CGST or SGST. Due to this lack of clarity, there is uncertainty in people’s minds and this is the reason that many people are feeling unprepared,” he said.
According to Parkhi, GST is a big change and any such big change will leave people with a feeling of unpreparedness. “The government should be lenient on people in the initial period in cases of non-compliance,”
he said.

One nation-One tax from July 1
– Extension of deadline to file returns has given a needed relief to tax payers and time to understand the new tax regime
– People are waiting for govt’s guidelines and data format for filing of summary returns per month which is mandatory