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Even tax officers left foxed by GST form

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NEW DELHI: A few weeks ago, amid the furore over a massive rise in compliance burden due to GST, the government decided to do a reality check. It set up a few computers and asked several indirect tax officers involved with conceptualisation and implementation of the new regime to try filling up the forms themselves.

While there were a few who managed to complete the task, there were several who had difficulty doing what they had been asking businesses to do all over the country. “Those who were computer-savvy managed to do it but there were some who took time,” said a source, confirming the development.

Suddenly, officers seemed to become aware of complications with the three-stage filing process. “It seemed there was a sudden change of heart, officers became sympathetic to something they were refusing to acknowledge for months despite complaints,” said a revenue service officer.

The change in mood in the government is apparent with the revenue department and the Central Board of Excise and Customs becoming more responsive to change. But before the officers took the test, the feedback in an internal survey wasn’t too favourable either. A survey of businessmen was limited to Gujarat and Haryana and the overwhelming impression was that the process was too cumbersome.

Small traders are complaining that GST has resulted in a split between fathers and sons and between brothers — with one of them taking care of the business, while the other handles compliance. The culprit is seen to be requirement to upload elaborate returns every month, then match the invoices uploaded by sellers before the final returns are filed and tax is paid.

While the GST Council, comprising state finance ministers and headed by union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has allowed quarterly filing of returns by businesses with annual turnover of up to Rs 1.5 crore, a panel of five state finance ministers has recommended that change should be extended to all companies.

Simultaneously, efforts are afoot to improve the functioning of the GST Network, the portal that is used for registration of entities, filing of returns and payment of taxes. Several glitches have been identified and Infosys, the vendor the project, has been asked to tone up, said officials.

Updated: November 9, 2017 — 3:13 am

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