Views on GST council new return design

GST Council today in its 27th meeting approved principles for filing of new return design based on the recommendations of the Group of Ministers on IT simplification. What are the  key elements of the new return design? What may be the effect? Is it going to complicate the system further or will it be easier like what we expected? All the answers are here, you just need to do sit back, relax & enjoy the write-up!

  1. One monthly Return: All taxpayers excluding a few exceptions like composition dealer shall file one monthly return. Return filing dates shall be staggered based on the turnover of the registered person to manage load on the IT system. Composition dealers and dealers having nil transaction shall have facility to file quarterly return.

Authors View: Composition Dealer’s Return & Nil return will continue to be quarterly based. However, for regular dealers there will be only One return, and return filling dates will be varied based upon the class of taxpayers. However it is important to note, the date of payment of tax may not be staggered & may continue to be one single date for regular dealers. The proposal is expected to help the GSTN portal to handle the load of data effectively.

  1. Unidirectional Flow of invoices: There shall be unidirectional flow of invoices uploaded by the seller on anytime basis during the month which would be the valid document to avail input tax credit by the buyer. Buyer would also be able to continuously see the uploaded invoices during the month. There shall not be any need to upload the purchase invoices also. Invoices for B2B transaction shall need to use HSN at four digit level or more to achieve uniformity in the reporting system.

Authors View: It means, there will be only one return. Purchase related return i.e. GSTR 2 will no longer be required to take credit. There will be only fusion return combination of GSTR 1 for supply related data & 3B for credit. Buyer would be able to see his credit on real time basis, based on the supply related return which seller is required to file. But what is the meaning of the below phrase:

‘There shall be unidirectional flow of invoices uploaded by the seller on anytime basis during the month which would be the valid document to avail input tax credit by the buyer.”

Does it mean, Tax Invoice is no longer required to take the credit? Can the ITC be taken based on the balance available in the electronic credit ledger? At least the language appears to communicate that. Balance of Electronic credit ledger is sufficient. It means, invoice wise checking no longer be required?

However, it is experienced in last nine months that, subject to exceptions, most of the taxpayers, especially large players will be using offline tool to upload the data at one go instead of uploading individual invoices. Hence, the real time credit may not be possible. Further, taking point no. (1) into consideration, as different taxpayers will be required to file return in different dates, the real time credit will be an additional challenge. Practically many will be taking the balances at the end of the month to avoid repetition of the work, as getting credit in the middle of the month is of no use unless any liability comes in. In addition, uniformity regarding HSN is proposed, though we need to wait further for more clarity about it.

  1. Simple Return design and easy IT interface: The B2B dealers will have to fill invoice-wise details of the outward supply made by them, based on which  the system will automatically calculate his tax liability. The input tax credit will be calculated automatically by the system based on invoices uploaded by his sellers. Taxpayer shall be also given user-friendly IT interface and offline IT tool to upload the invoices.

Authors View: Nothing is new here, system is already designed to calculate tax automatically & flow the same as credit to the buyers. May be the same has been proposed to make things less complicated.

  1. No automatic reversal of credit: There shall not be any automatic reversal of input tax credit from buyer on non-payment of tax by the seller. In case of default in payment of tax by the seller, recovery shall be made from the seller however reversal of credit from buyer shall also be an option available with  the revenue authorities to address exceptional situations like missing dealer, closure of business by supplier or supplier not having adequate assets etc.

Authors View: This is much needed relief. The most talked about concern of GST law was recovery of credit from the buyer & penalizing him for no fault of him rather for any default of the seller. This was harsh, no two ways about it. It seems the authority has considered the same & provided much needed relief. No automatic reversal at buyers hand for default of the seller. In fact, the proposal has gone ahead &made clear not to initiate proceedings against buyer rather to the seller who is defaulter. No doubt, It is much logical system than before. However, input tax credit will be recovered from the buyer for fake transactions likes of missing dealer, closure of business by supplier etc. This will help all the genuine taxpayers who is complying with every rules and will ensure no revenue leakage for Government

Due process for recovery and reversal: Recovery of tax or reversal of input tax credit shall be through a due process of issuing notice and order. The process would be online and automated to reduce the human interface.

Authors View: Again, nothing is new here, system is already designed to issue notice, order etc. digitally to reduce human interface. May be, it was proposed once again, to make it standard.

  1. Supplier side control: Unloading of invoices by the seller to pass input tax credit who has defaulted in payment of tax above a threshold amount shall be blocked to control misuse of input tax credit facility. Similar safeguards would be built with regard to newly registered dealers also. Analytical tools would be used to identify such transactions at the earliest and prevent loss of revenue.

Authors View: Masterstroke! Very nice proposal. Instead of passing on the ineligible credit & recovery of the same, or initiate action few years down the line, block the flow of credit. It means, taxpayers will not be able to file return & pass on the credit to buyer, in case of any default of payment of tax. Hope the system glitches will not be hindrance for genuine cases where there is no fault of taxpayers. We have had enough!

6. Transition: There will be a three-stage transition to the new system. Stage I shall be the present system of filing of return GSTR 3B and GSTR 1. GSTR 2 and GSTR 3 shall continue to remain suspended. Stage I will continue for a period not exceeding 6 months by which time new return software would be ready. In stage 2, the new return will have facility for invoice-wise data upload and also facility for claiming input tax credit on self-declaration basis, as in case of GSTR 3B now. During this stage 2, the dealer will be constantly fed with information about gap between credit available to them as per invoices uploaded by their sellers and    the provisional credit being claimed by them. After 6 months of this phase 2, the facility of provisional credit will get withdrawn and input tax credit will only be limited to the invoices uploaded by the sellers from whom the dealer has purchased goods.

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