Opinion

Teething troubles

Mohan R Lavi | Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on August 29, 2017

BL30_THINK2_DC

Revising GST returns should be permitted

“Can I pay excess amount of tax in relation to the amount in my liability ledger to avoid penalty because my accountant wrongly entered the tax amount which is much less than the actual amount? Do I need to wait until GSTR 1 to be filed? Please reply ASAP”. This is an example of the sort of messages that appeared on websites as taxpayers prepared to file their first returns under GST.

Other instances were more problematical. A taxpayer in Bengaluru had outward supplies of ₹12,50,000. By mistake, his accountant entered the amount as ₹1,25,00,000. In his enthusiasm to file the return, he clicked ‘submit’ without verifying the amounts, realised his mistake after submitting the return and tried desperately but it was too late. He was greeted with a icon which looked like a lock and prevented him from changing the value of his outward supplies. His employer had to cough up an additional amount of ₹22.27 lakhs in tax. One is not sure if the accountant still has his employment intact.

Another taxpayer in Vijayawada made a mistake in his outward supplies as well as setting off his credit resulting in his CGST tax reflecting a negative balance. He too moved heaven and earth to get this rectified on the portal without having to pay tax but to no avail.

In another instance in Delhi, an employee of the accounting firm who was in charge of generating the challan to pay GST paid the entire amount of tax as IGST though the client only had a SGST liability. Unable to do anything on the portal, they had to pay the SGST part of tax again.

The Government claims that ₹42,000 crores has been received as tax under GST. If this number reflects the amount in the electronic cash ledger, it may not be a reflection of the actual tax due.

See and submit

All the above instances occurred because the people involved clicked on the ‘submit’ button before checking the numbers. The portal does issue a warning note that states that once a person clicks the submit button, the numbers cannot be changed.

But over-enthusiastic taxpayers end up submitting the forms without doing a cross-check because they are not sure when the portal will go kaput. If there is anything that accountants have learned from the first GST filing, it is to ensure that the ‘submit’ button is clicked only after a comprehensive audit of everything that is displayed on the portal has been verified.

It is unfair to expect the taxpayer to be absolutely spot on in complying with the onerous provisions of GST.

Considering the fact that a whole new set of taxpayers who were not very well versed in technology are entering the world of GST and that the technology of GST is being released in instalments, taxpayers should be given an opportunity to revise their returns.

This need not be given as a proviso in the GST Acts but can be notified till March 2018 by which time accountants in India would have worked out a jugaad solution to file any form on the portal. Ironically, all the forms for payment of taxes have been notified but not even a single form to apply for a refund seems anywhere in sight.

The Government has given an assurance that no penalty will be levied for wrong entry in the first two months of GST implementation. Considering the issues that were faced, taxpayers would not settle for anything less than even interest not being levied.

The writer is a chartered accountant

Published on August 29, 2017
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