The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council extended the deadline for filing return for the first two months and allowed a simpler format for the same citing lack of preparedness on part of the ERP providers and other businesses. However, stakeholders and industry experts including GST suvidha providers (GSPs) told FE that the lack of preparedness was largely due to Council’s decision to tweak the return forms which proved to be overwhelming for GST Network (GSTN) to incorporate in the short period available.
The Council made several changes to the GST return filing form in its 15th meeting on June 3. Sources said that this delayed the testing of the system and left GSTN to deliver the application programming interface (APIs) in very little time. The APIs are software protocols that are mounted with customised solution by developers or GSPs.
“The changes made in the return form threw GSTN and and Infosys out of gear. As it is, the APIs involved in GST are probably among the most complex software developed by Infosys, which was not helped by the fact that it was working against a constantly moving target,” a source said on condition of anonymity. GSTN had selected Infosys to build the IT backbone for GST.
GSPs have welcomed the relaxation in filing return as it will give ample time for preparation for all concerned. “The extra time will now ensure that the IT companies have their solutions prepared, tested and checked. Additionally, it also provides time to assessees to choose a GSP that serves their interest the best,” Chirag Bhatt, head of GST at Botree software international. The company is one of the 34 GSPs selected by GSTN.
“The Council could have avoided the confusion by ensuring that the changes in the filing form didn’t occur so close to the roll-out date. Moreover, the industry could have used the earlier form for a couple of month and then moved to the revised one, thus avoiding delays faced by GSTN,” another GSP said.
After its meeting on Sunday, the Council announced that businesses could file a simpler return with details of inward of outward supplies – much like the current system in VAT and excise regime — instead of invoice-wise details required in the original GST form. The relaxation is meant for the first two months whereby the assessees can file return for July by August 20, and for August by September 20. However, they will have to file the return with invoice-wise details for both the month in September itself.
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“No late fees and penalty would be levied in the interim period. This is intended to provide a sense of comfort to the taxpayers and give them the elbow room to attune themselves with the requirements of the changed system,” the Council said in a statement.