Under GST, tax filing for traders made easy with one-page return

Written by Gireesh Chandra Prasad | Gireesh Chandra Prasad | Shillong | Updated: Nov 20 2013, 09:24am hrs
About 65 lakh traders across the country would be able to file their tax returns for local and inter-state transactions through a one-page challan using their cel l- phones once the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) comes into force a few years from now.

The one-page return would apply for GST at state and central levels as well as tax on inter-state trade. These three elements of GST would replace a host of existing taxes such as excise duty, customs duty and service tax at the central level and VAT and Central Sales Tax (CST) at the state level for which traders have to file different returns now.

This scheme envisaged under an IT network, being set up to enforce the GST, is also set to automate inspection of tax receipts at state borders and put an end to the delays in transportation of goods across the country and reduce corruption by limiting interactions between local officers and transporters.

As per an update presented before the an empowered committee of state finance ministers chaired by J&K finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather on Tuesday, 65 lakh dealers are expected to be registered for GST.

Rather told FE that R30 crore is being spent in the first stage of the IT project being implemented by GST Network, a private limited company set up for it.

As per current discussions between the Centre and states, traders below a gross all-India turnover of R25 lakh need not pay GST on sale within the state, but need to pay taxes if they sell outside their state, however small the value may be.

The idea is to include maximum number of traders within GST so that the rate of tax could be kept at a politically acceptable level, while leaving out those traders who contribute less tax revenue than the government spending on administering them.

Finer aspects of the threshold, including whether it should be the same for both central and state governments components of GST, and whether it should be the same across the country are still being worked out.

We want all traders, excepting those with extremely low gross turnover, to register for GST and file returns although they may be below the turnover threshold and need not pay taxes. Registration of all traders is important as their turnover could touch the threshold any time. States, however, insist that those below the threshold should be exempt from both payment of taxes as well as from the requirement of filing returns, said an official.

As per the data provided by NSDL that is developing a GST portal to facilitate registration of traders, payment of taxes, filing of returns, matching of input tax credit and settlement of interstate GST, the PAN numbers quoted by only half (54%) of the 59 lakh active traders across India have matched with the records of central and state tax authorities.

To maximise revenue collection, the authorities need to get the remaining on board. There are about 75 lakh dealers across the country.