After a shaky first year of existence, GSTN CEO Prakash Kumar today said the company handling the IT backbone of GST has put in place a robust tax filing system that can withstand last minute rush. The Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), which went live on November 8 last year, has over the year improvised the system to help lakhs of businesses to pay taxes and file returns under the new GST regime every month. Speaking to PTI, Kumar described the past one year as a “challenging task” as the portal had to account for all the business transactions that happened after the GST rollout and ensure timely availability of utilities on the portal. “Doing a project of this magnitude has been exciting and challenging. When we started developing the system, we knew this was an opportunity to change and we needed a system which we can scale up going forward,” said Kumar, who is an IIT graduate and a former bureaucrat. So far, more than 72 lakh businesses which were earlier registered with excise, service tax or VAT have already migrated to the GST regime, while over 30 lakh new businesses have come into the tax net. More than 13 lakh taxpayers filed their GSTR-3B return for August on the last day, September 20. Similarly, for GSTR-1, load on the network was close to 7 lakh. Since the roll out of GST on July 1, the GSTN portal has handled over 2.26 crore returns and collected revenue to the tune of Rs 2.78 lakh crore for the exchequer.
This is mammoth considering that the rules relating to returns were finalised nearly a month before the roll out of the new tax regime and there was almost no time left for conducting tests on the portal. Experts said world over when a reform of this magnitude is undertaken, the law is usually framed about a year in advance so that the technology backbone was given enough time to conduct pilot projects. In the earlier regime the experience suggested that there was a 10 per cent increase in assessee base every year, but while GST system was being developed it could not be estimated as to of how many businesses would migrate or register, Kumar said. “What was challenging was businesses across the country had to register and we did not have an estimate of the number of registrants,” he said, adding that only PAN-verified businesses have been able to register themselves on the portal.
The GST system has PAN (Permanent Account Number) data of the promoters as well as the authorised signatories for the company and a majority of this matching happened between November 2016 and June 2017. The GSTN portal had faced glitches in the initial months of return filing. While some critics have blamed Infosys for outages in the system, some opined that the last moment finalisation of rules relating to returns took toll on system’s performance.