January 16, 2018

In a bid to bring about a major procedural overhaul in goods and services tax (GST)  so as to reduce the compliance burden for businesses, the government is mulling over a single-stage return filing process instead of existing three-stage mechanism.

The government is likely to ensure that the bigger businesses which account for a large portion of taxes file the returns first followed by the smaller firms, The Times of India reported. Earlier last year, the government offered a major relief to small businesses by reducing the compliance burden on SMEs with a turnover of up to Rs 1.5 crore allowing them to file their GST returns quarterly instead of monthly. The committee is also planning to cap GST return fillings to 12 a year than many currently, The Times of India report added. The final list of proposals will be presented to the GST Council headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley later this week, the report said.The government is planning to reinforce the procedural framework and weed out credit-flow issues to arrest increasing costs without compromising on revenues.

With the upcoming budget 2018 being the first after GST, there is pressure on the government to take up legislative reforms to ensure effective implementation and smoothen up the filing process o the best possible extent. Apart from the usual expectations of corporate tax rate cuts and revamping of the deductions which top the wish list of the industry, the demand is for the rationalization of the GST rates and reforms in the GST procedural framework. Another contributory factor to the mounting pressure for reforms is the long gap between the GST Council meetings. The complex framework of GST is such that duty rates and the exemption list under GST can be modified only upon the recommendations of the GST Council. So, it is likely that this budget session will be confined to the rate changes in relation to customs and excise duties and industry will have to hold on to its wish-list a little bit longer. However, it is quite likely that there will be a teaser of what is to come regarding the rates with the formal execution being delayed till the conclusion of the next GST Council meeting.

[The Financial Express]