Budget 2021: Removing GST audit will be retrograde step, ICAI tells govt

KR Srivats New Delhi | Updated on February 10, 2021

Atul Kumar Gupta, outgoing President of ICAI

The CA Institute has knocked the doors of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Minister seeking a withdrawal of the Budget proposal to do away with mandatory annual audit and reconciliation statement certification by a chartered accountant in respect of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

The Budget has — in an apparent business-friendly move — proposes to amend the Central GST law to allow filing of annual returns on a self-certification basis. It has also empowered the commissioner to exempt a class of taxpayers from filing of annual returns.

This Budget proposal has left the chartered accountants fraternity in a state of shock, prompting the CA Institute to demand a rollback of the move.

Confirming that CA Institute has sought a rollback of this proposal, Atul Kumar Gupta, outgoing President of ICAI, told BusinessLine that formal representation was made to PMO and Finance Ministry about 4-5 days ago.

“Removal of GST audit should not be seen as one perspective of ease of doing business. Doing away with GST audit will be a retrograde step as it will create greater problems for society in days to come if there is no concept of maker checker,” Gupta said.

He highlighted that the audit fraternity has through various audits been instrumental in arranging over ₹20,000 crore of additional taxes flow to the exchequer. “GST audit helps in prevention and early detection of disease. When we do reconciliation audit, we look at 20 different things from compliances point of view. That will not be done if Budget proposal goes through. Maker checker concept will not be there,” he said.

Amarjit Chopra, former President of ICAI, said: “It is indeed unfortunate that Finance Bill 2021 seeks to do away with GST audit irrespective of the size and turnover of the entity. The government must reconsider the decision to withdraw GST audit.”

To say that audit adds to compliance cost may partially be true but for that to withdraw GST audit in case of all entities may not be justified, he added.

Accounts assistant scheme

Meanwhile, in a novel initiative, the CA Institute has as part of its CSR programme launched an ‘ICAI ARF Accounts Assistant Scheme’ at the hands of Anurag Singh Thakur, Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs. This pilot project of ICAI ARF is being launched initially for local youth of Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh.

The scheme will help students who are above the age of 21 years and will train the local youth for book keeping, GST filing and understanding the tax procedures of GST.

Published on February 10, 2021

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