New Delhi, August 10, 2017

With barely 10 days left for goods and services tax (GST) assessees to file summarised interim returns, the GST Network (GSTN),

the IT back end for the indirect tax regime, hasn’t yet started witnessing high-frequency traffic, indicating a possible last-minute rush.

“We have just 16,000 returns till August 8 while there are 87 lakh businesses registered with us,” GSTN chairman Navin Kumar told FE on Wednesday. However, he added that the back end was equipped to handle even a last-minute rush. “Half of the people might come on the last day,” he said, attributing the low traffic on the portal so far to assessees’ behaviour pattern.

Only a little over half of the registrants on GSTN have so far completed the process by filling up part B of the registration form.

The interim return, GSTR 3B, requires taxpayers to provide a summary of outward sales, purchases, input tax credit demand and tax liability. The window for filing these returns commenced on August 5 and it will remain open till August 20. The GST Council had earlier postponed the requirement for filing full-fledged returns to September, and allowed the taxpayers to file interim return for July and August, in a bid to reduce their initial hassles.

Kumar, however, told FE that not all of the 16,000 taxpayers had completed the return filing process as many are yet to pay the tax. “The taxpayers have come to the site and saved the relevant data on the portal but not submitted it as they need to first pay the tax before submission, which hasn’t happened,” Kumar said .

He admitted that the the traffic on the portal had been slow thus far, and urged the assessees to not wait for the last day to file returns. However, he assured that the GSTN system was robust enough to handle the heavy traffic it might experience closer to the last date.

“We have designed the system keeping the possible deluge of taxpayers in the final hours as our study suggests that a very large number of taxpayers sign up on the last two days of the deadline,” Kumar said.

Additionally, businesses have the option of filing return with the help of GST suvidha providers (GSPs). GSTN has authorised 34 such firms to upload data onto the portal on behalf of taxpayers. However, only 18 such GSPs have been able to connect to the GSTN servers for filing the interim returns.

“I have been urging them to speed up their work,” Kumar said about GSPs that are yet to go live.

Till August 5, nearly 87 lakh taxpayers had registered on the GSTN portal as taxpayers under GST. Of this, nearly 71 lakh businesses have migrated from earlier VAT or central excise or service tax regime while 16 lakh new taxpayers too have registered with the portal. What could further compound the problem is the incomplete registrations submitted by the registrants. GSTN had earlier said that over 30% of the firm registered on the portal had not completed the second form. This would prevent these businesses from filing returns.

[The Financial Express]