GST: Compliance falls for invoice returns

By: | Published: January 18, 2018 5:52 AM

Detailed invoice-level filings are important because it is only after these details are available that GST authorities can check the levels of tax evasion.

Compliance level for GST invoice-level filings continues to be low despite several extensions and, in all probability, are just over 30% right now. (Reuters)

Compliance level for GST invoice-level filings continues to be low despite several extensions and, in all probability, are just over 30% right now. In the case of summary returns, however, compliance levels have been higher at around 65-70%. Detailed invoice-level filings are important because it is only after these details are available that GST authorities can check the levels of tax evasion. While the break-even GST collection is likely to be in the range of Rs 95,000-1,00,000 crore per month, in April-November collections have averaged Rs 87,000 — after Rs 92,000 crore for July, collections fell to Rs 81,000 crore for November. While there were around 60 lakh firms registered under GST in July, this rose to 84 lakh by November. In addition, the number of firms under the composition scheme — these firms need to pay just a 1% GST levy on sales and file quarterly summary returns — rose from 5 lakh to 16 lakh over the same period.

Summary returns that all non-composition firms have to file every month fell from 58.7 lakh in July to 53 lakh in November. This works out to an average compliance level of 66%. Compliance levels for the composition scheme, surprisingly, fell to a lower 35-40% and with tax filed of Rs 250 crore, the average turnover of these firms was around Rs 2 lakh in that quarter or Rs 8 lakh if its annualised. Since firms with sales of less than Rs 20 lakh don’t even have to register for GST, the tax evasion is apparent. Firms with a turnover of less than Rs 1.5 crore had to file detailed sales return with invoice-level return for July-September by January 10, making that a total of around 180-200 lakh returns.

Firms with a turnover of more than Rs 1.5 crore had to file these returns for July to November, making that a total of 35-40 lakh returns. While no details are available of the number of returns filed before January 2, according to data given by Bihar finance minister Sushil Modi, in the eight days leading to the January 10 deadline, a total of 47 lakh returns were filed . If you assume 20-30 lakh return were filed prior to January 2, that gives a filing ratio of about 33%.

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