If you are wondering as a consumer if the goods and services tax (GST) paid on the last meal at an eatery or whether the tax charged on grocery items recently bought are actually being deposited with the government, then you don’t have to look further than a host of free mobile applications.
For instance, take the recently launched ‘GST Verify’ android app, which has been developed by B Raghu Kiran, a joint commissioner of GST in Hyderabad. Besides being simple and light on the phone memory, this app allows a consumer to enter the GST identification number (GSTIN) of businesses, which are available on the receipts. The app then throws up information about the GST compliance of the business — as in the accompanying image where the taxpayer Olive Bar and Kitchen is classified as ‘regular’. Of course, this particular app doesn’t provide granular details of monthly return-filing status of the business concerned.
A fancier app ‘Peridot’, launched by IRIS Business
Services, which is empanelled by GST Network (GSTN) to function as a GST Suvidha Provider (GSP), is equipped with optical character recognition. The app, therefore, lets a consumer scan the bill, which automatically picks up the GSTIN number and throws up relevant details. As the image show, the app not only validates the GSTIN but also shows detailed status of return-filing (both GSTR-3B and GSTR-1) of the taxpayer.
An executive at IRIS Business told FE that its app had identified a restaurant in Delhi which was using a fake GSTIN. “If it turns out that the business you have been dealing with hasn’t deposited the tax collected from the consumer, then the consumer can decline to pay the GST charged,” Gautam Mahanti, business head at IRIS, said.
Experts said these innovations are possible in GST as the entire database is centralised unlike the earlier regime — where each state had its own value added system (VAT) and the Centre was implementing a parallel central VAT chain.
In fact, even without installing such apps, a consumer can gather relevant information about an entity as a government-owned website http://www.gst.gov.in provides the feature to search details of taxpayers — regular and composition-scheme dealers. All the other apps connect to the GSTN server through the site itself.
As the graphics show, the site provides all the details related to the taxpayer as well as her return-filing status. As can be seen clearly, the taxpayer selected for the exercise — Speciality Restaurants — hasn’t been filing GSTR-1 since January even though it is regular in paying taxes by filing interim return GSTR-3B.
Additionally, a composition dealer charging GST on sales can also be detected through any of these apps and the website. Under GST, a taxpayer with an annual revenue below `1.5 crore can opt for the composition scheme — which provides the entity with a concessional rate of tax on its sales along with a much simpler compliance process. However, they aren’t allowed to collect GST from the consumers.
Besides free apps, there are many relatively inexpensive solutions offered by a host of players who provide these services only to MSMEs. For instance, Alankit, which is also a GSP, has developed e-Raahi app that can scan invoice details and create an e-way bill for movement of the goods mentioned in the invoice.
“The large corporate space is too crowded and there are too many people. Our focus is on GST for ‘Bharat’ which is a MSME segment. They have a lot of issues like bandwidth restriction, capital crunch and gap in knowledge of GST laws and related provisions,” Ankit Agarwal, director, Alankit, said.
Further, given the myriad classifications and rates under GST, it is almost impossible to expect a regular customer to know the rates of items being bought. In case there is no clarity over the rate, another android app launched by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) — GST Rate Finder — could be used to verify the correct rate of tax on any commodity. It is also among the most downloaded GST-related apps as its also available in Hindi.
Besides, there are a host of other apps launched by various GSPs, including EY, Deloitte, Tally Solutions and karvy, among others. While they provide updated content on changes in the GST Act and informative articles on impact of rate changes, many of them show very low downloads as they are still being updated with more content.