In a bid to ease the compliance burden for small taxpayers, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council is likely to waive off the mandatory requirement to file GST annual returns for taxpayers below annual turnover of Rs 2 crore.
“GST Council in its meet on September 20 will consider the proposal to do away with the compliance of filing annual GST Returns -- GSTR9, GSTR9A and GSTR9C, for the financial year 2017-18, 2018-19 for taxpayers below the threshold of the annual turnover of Rs 2 crores," senior government officials told CNBC-TV18.
Not just this, the central government has already gone a step ahead and started working on the necessary changes which will be required to pave way for this decision.
"GST Council nominated law committee has already started working on the changes which will be required to facilitate the proposed changes," senior government officials said.
The due date for filing annual return forms and annual audit forms for the financial year 2017-18, i.e. GSTR-9, GSTR-9A, and GSTR-9C respectively have already been extended from August 31 to November 30, 2019.
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her recent rounds of interactions, across the country, with industry/ taxpayers and tax officers too, has been taking feedback on how to ease compliance and reduce tax terrorism.
The tax assessment process requires a lot more transparency and has to be process-driven and not discretion-driven, union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said after during one of her meetings with taxpayers/ industry and tax officers.
The message that the government wants to give is very clear, according to the finance minister that the tax collectors do not have to be overreaching.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been emphasising on tax compliance and to honour the wealth creators and reducing the compliance burden of taxpayers across sections.
“The suggestion to do away with annual returns for small taxpayers is based on the recommendations and suggestions that finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman got after her several meetings with industry/ taxpayers and tax officers across India," the senior government official added.
Tax experts feel, if this decision goes through, then it will be a step in the right direction, as it is in-line with the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Abhishek Jain, Tax Partner at EY said, "This may be quite an aid from the ease of compliance perspective for small businesses. To recall, an annual return requirement historically under the VAT regime as well as exempt for businesses with a specified threshold and hence this proposal may be aligned to the pre-GST regime. Also, smaller businesses are looking for this relief because they had not maintained quite a lot of details which were required to be reported in the annual return; essentially owing to the suspension of GSTR-2."
"Doing away with the requirement of annual return will help the small businesses as the return is quite detailed and time-consuming. In any case, the government has all data of their GST filings which can be used for data analytics and specific questions can be asked if there are any discrepancies noticed. It would also help the tax administration to focus on bigger businesses. It remains to be seen how the annual returns already filed by these businesses (which would perhaps be exempt henceforth) would be used," Pratik Jain, Partner & Leader, Indirect Tax, PwC India said.A final call on the proposal will, however, rest with the GST Council.