Opinion

Form fatigue

Mohan R Lavi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 16, 2017

BL17_THINK2_DC

How GSTR return becomes a complex affair

Compliance in the GST regime involves filing a bewildering array of forms with unique alphanumeric identities. As the date for filing the first return in the GST era fast approaches — the GSTR-3B is to be filed on or before the August 20 — taxpayers are still not clear on the nitty-gritty of filing the form.

The form itself cannot be filed but can only be downloaded and saved through an off-line utility. If the entire population of GST taxpayers log on to the portal a few days prior to the due date, the portal is going to be tested for its capacity to handle such large traffic — an extension of time looks imminent here.

Form 3B in itself should not pose a problem for taxpayers who have seen more complicated stuff under the Central Excise Act. There are 8 columns to fill which tabulate basic data of outward supplies, inward supplies subject to reverse charge, supplies made to a certain category of persons such as unregistered persons, input tax credit, exempt supplies, tax deducted at source and details of the tax paid.

It is ironical that, as on date, the only act that taxpayers can do without getting stuck on the portal is to pay their taxes though the form to compute the tax cannot be filed online.

Though taxpayers in India normally prefer to pay the taxes at the nth moment, the month of August could prove to be an outlier in that the taxpayer may pay his taxes first since that is the only thing he can do now- he would later ensure that Form 3B matches the tax paid.

At this early stage itself, it is becoming clear that if at all GST implementation has to be a success, a large part of the responsibility would lie in the technology piece — right now, there are no firm opinions on the technology as only bits and pieces of it are being showcased.

Credit matters

Extension or no extension, filing of 3B is bound to happen at some point in time. More than the filing, it is the contents of the form that raise a few questions. Can existing indirect tax payers including VAT payers claim their carry forward credit in the form? Can taxpayers use the column 4(A)(5) of GSTR 3B and indicate all their carry forward credit as “ All other ITC”?

The transitional provisions recommend a Form GST TRAN 1 to carry forward the credit including the credit of duty paid on inventory as on June 30. From which form would the credit be transferred to the electronic credit ledger-3B or TRAN1? It should be TRAN1 as it is a specific form for a specific purpose unlike 3B which is a temporary form designed to tide over the inability to mandate filing of the trilogy of forms every month- GSTR 1/2/and 3.

In the absence of any specific guidance, taxpayers have taken refuge in the Twitter handle GST@Goi to seek responses to their questions. Due to the inadequacies of twitter, the answers invariably are ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and draw reference to the particular sections of the GST Act.

In a response to a question on transitional ITC on June 13, 2017, it has been stated that transitional ITC can be claimed in 3B and modalities would be announced soon. The same day, another response states there will be a fee for late filing.

It may be only a matter of time before all the individual parts of GST implementation come together. Till that time, the GST Council should comfort taxpayers with an assurance that they would not be unnecessarily penalised.

The writer is a chartered accountant

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Published on August 16, 2017
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