A year to remember, a year to cherish and a year which wrote history for India. India witnessed the major tax reform since its independence which replaced the traditional indirect tax law to modern GST. Government, System, Taxpayers are the three pillars of this modern tax law. Like a mother who goes under severe labour pain to give birth to her child, same way we all had similar pains to give birth to the child of the nation “GST”. Like a mother who faces what not while first year of her motherhood, we also had the same feeling grooming GST towards its first birthday – 1st July 2018.
We have seen a lot of ups and downs in past 52 weeks and every day was a new challenge for the taxpayer, be it technical glitches, change of tax rate, change of returns etc. etc. etc. But one thing is pretty sure that the way both taxpayers and government has responded to the problems, it was commendable. By the end of the year it seems that GST portal which is the backbone of the modern law is working properly. On our birthday we never see what has happened in past, but we make our plans and goals for the future.
GST Version 2.0 is expected to make major changes, of-course in favour of taxpayers.
Firstly we expect further rationalisation of the tax rates. Only few items should remain in 28% tax slab. Doing this would help government to have better tax collection and more importantly administering the tax. There is a need of tax overhaul in terms of tax structures.
Secondly, refunds, be it for exporters or the budgetary support to area based exemption unit is souring the taste of the online based tax law. The government should come with concept of e-wallet for the exporters as soon as possible. The process needs to be ease down to ensure that the huge amount of working capital does not remain stuck for so long. Even in case of exports with payment of tax, a provisional refund would be granted in time bound manner. The transfers of data from GSTN to ICEGATE can be done at a later stage. This will help the exporters to continue their operation without the worry of blocked working capital.
Thirdly, there is a need to simplify the return form under GST. People have some how managed a full year round the clock compliances understanding to be 1st year of GST. But if the same continues, the day is not far when they shall start retaliating to the increasing compliance burden. If matching concept is to be kept, single page return form as proposed is beyond my imagination. The government should sit down and analyse the problems being faced rather than falling in the trap by making decisions in haste.
Fourthly, although there were GST helpdesks, GST emails etc. but the fact remains that most of the grievances of the taxpayers had remained unresolved. There is a need to setup a helpdesk and area based help units to provide time bound resolutions to the taxpayers. Sharing the screenshots without proper resolution solves no purpose.
Lastly, there needs to be appropriate lower level forums for advance rulings. Its been only one year and already there are huge number of cases filed with the various authority for advance rulings. There is a need to encourage provisional assessments and work out lower level methodology to expeditious resolution to the problems faced by the taxpayers.