Saturday 23 September 2017 News Updated at 03:09 AM IST
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Midnight masala, with GST to taste - Deccan Herald
Midnight masala, with GST to taste
Mohan Lavi,
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While the laundry list of issues on GST can be plenty, there can be no doubt that as a concept, GST is certainly welcome if it is implemented as a true value-added tax. Reuters Image
Just before the stroke of midnight on June 30, the Prime Minister in his introductory speech stated that GST is so simple that a Class 12 student can help merchants file their returns.

At the stroke of midnight on August 31, a majority of taxpayers seem to be reaching the conclusion that GST is so complicated that even a full-fledged GST consultant cannot help merchants file their returns.

Two months of GST have been filled with issues such as the gst.gov.in behaving moodily, temporary forms being issued as a stop gap measure, no clarity on filling the forms, digital signature certificates not being accepted and a bunch of complicated Notifications and Circulars being issued.

While the laundry list of issues on GST can be plenty, there can be no doubt that as a concept, GST is certainly welcome if it is implemented as a true value-added tax.

None of the erstwhile indirect taxes were truly value-added taxes due to the existence of numerous limitations and conditions.

While the GST implemented in India has helped in doing away with the cascading impact of multiple taxes, it is unfortunate that in the implementation of the core aspects of the law, GST has borrowed a number of concepts from the taxes in their erstwhile avatar. Due to this, the GST as on date remains a jugaad value-added tax.

Issues in GST

Considering the fact that GST was introduced with the technology part missing, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that there would be teething troubles in complying with some aspects of the law.

However, no one expected troubles in almost every aspect of the law. Commencing with an extremely long list of HSN Codes that was certainly not necessary (the codes should have been limited to the principal product classification) to an inability to amend the figures in a return that has been submitted but not filed, taxpayers have had a pretty turbulent July and August.

September may not be very different considering the fact that the originally planned trilogy of monthly returns (GSTR 1/2/3) need to be filed along with a temporary return and a transition return.

Ironically, the only transaction that happened with a minimum of effort in the last couple of months was payment of taxes due, though the forms that calculated the taxes due could not be filed at the same time.

Technical glitches have resulted in some taxpayers having to pay the same tax all over again and having to adjust it in the returns due to be filed in September.

To add to the complications of taxpayers, there is a plethora of information and advice on GST available on websites and social media.

However, the primary issue with this advice is that some questions have three different answers.

Hopefully, it is only going to be a matter of time before the GST technology is rectified and filing forms on the portal works like a breeze.

However, unless the basic law of GST is modified by removing unnecessary restrictions and conditions and simplifying Notifications, GST may well expand to Generally Strenuous Tax.

(The author is a Bengaluru-based chartered accountant and columnist)

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