However, before the clarification was issued, taxpayers had construed the missing July 2017 data as a sign that GSTN would start deleting any details older than three years.
A technical glitch at the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) portal led to a scramble among taxpayers and tax consultants to save data related to monthly returns on their own storage systems after the designated portal stopped showing tax return details for July 2017. The GST Network on Monday clarified that it was a technical glitch, which would be resolved in a day, and not a deliberate removal of data, as was being feared.
However, before the clarification was issued, taxpayers had construed the missing July 2017 data as a sign that GSTN would start deleting any details older than three years. On August 1, the July 2017 data came into this category.
A tax consultant said that while the law and rules do not allow GSTN to remove data older than 3 years, the impression that this was being done was created because a taxpayer viewing the electronic liability register on the portal could see the message ‘maximum period for viewing ledger is 3 years’.
When FE contacted GSTN, its chief executive officer Prakash Kumar said: “July 2017 is not appearing in the dropdown of FY 2017-18. This is a tech glitch which is getting resolved. Tech team is working on it.”
The portal had also started flashing the message on Monday: “Dear taxpayer, the team is working to restore the facility to file and view GSTR-3B and GSTR-1 return for July 2017. We expect it to be available in a day.” The message is still visible as the glitch is yet to be resolved.
Another tax consultant said that they started advising businesses to start taking data backup for earlier period as it would be quite helpful during the assessment stage. They said that that it appeared that GSTN may have taken the action for lack of storage space.
“Removal of taxpayer data from the user dashboard would signal either a technical snag or limited space in data centres of GSTN, both of which would raise questions on maturity of the government’s digital initiatives,” Rajat Mohan, senior partner at AMRG & Associates, said.
He added that even though the clarification from GSTN removes fear of data unavailability, taxpayers would want to have a digital image of data loaded on GSTN servers to create a backup of all the transactions, and bigger companies would be looking at changing the current structure of software to capture input and output from GSTN portal, a move that could put MSME taxpayers at the receiving end of this sudden change.