New Delhi, March 24, 2017

CBEC urges officers to ensure enrolment is completed by March 31

The Centre’s efforts to get businesses ready for the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in just about four months seems to be lagging behind with a large number of assessees yet to be enrolled in the GST Network.

The deadline of March 31 for enrolment of existing assesseess may now have to be extended.

Official data indicate that while over 60 per cent of tax payers, if not more, in most States have migrated to the GSTN, a majority of taxpayers registered under Central Excise and Service Tax are yet to be enrolled.

Despite a deadline of March 31 for the exercise, just 6.15 per cent of taxpayers who are registered under Central Excise Act but not registered under State VAT have enrolled for GST.

Similarly, 15.43 per cent of service tax assessees who are not registered under State VAT have enrolled for GST.

With GST expected to roll out from July 1 this year, all taxpayers of central excise, service tax as well as value added tax have to enrol under the new tax system on its online portal — GSTN — to file returns and invoices.

It is estimated that there are about 65 lakh assessees of VAT, 26 lakh assessees under service tax and about 5 lakh central excise assessees, most of who will register under GST on a single portal. They will have to begin filing monthly returns from August.

Timely migration of taxpayers is a crucial part of the administrative preparedness for GST, which will not only integrate Central and State level levies, but also be introduced in the middle of the year.

The issue has also been of concern to the Central Board of Excise and Customs that is responsible for the roll out of the GST at the Central level.

“It is a matter of serious concern, that while the migration figure is in the range of 50 per cent to 90 per cent for majority of States and Union Territories, the migration with respect of Central Excise and Service tax assessees through CBEC is paltry…,” S Ramesh, Member, CBEC, had written in a missive last month.

Noting that the progress of migration to GST was being closely monitored at the highest level, he had asked field formations to conduct more seminars and training to encourage taxpayers to migrate early within the deadline. States such as Karnataka (92.36 per cent), Maharashtra (86.44 per cent) and Gujarat (86.22 per cent) have already enrolled a majority of the tax payers under GST, while North East States such as Assam (19.66 per cent) and Meghalaya (14.92 per cent) as well as others such as Odisha (44.52 per cent) are lagging behind in the exercise.

According to the GST website, enrolment of taxpayers registered under VAT, service tax and central excise after January 2016 is yet to start.

However, industry watchers say that the enrolment will not be much of a challenge as more awareness is created amongst businesses about GST.

“Some of the data show that approximately 60 per cent of businesses have enrolled for GST. It is partly because of a lack of knowledge, awareness on how to get enrolled and what to do,” said Sudhir Singh, Managing Director, Marg ERP, adding that eventually all taxpayers will have to migrate to the new GST system.

[The Hindu Business Line]