As the date for Goods and Services Tax (GST) audit nears, many companies and banks fear they will not be able to comply with separate audits of all the states by the end of the year as required by the GST framework because they do not reconcile their financial results with state wise returns. Many companies have also reached out to the government and sought an extension of the deadline for filing the returns. The government has still not extended the deadline. The tax returns are to be filed for July 2017 to March 2018 period. All companies with annual revenue of at least Rs 2 crore in India have to comply.
Tax experts say that in many cases statutory auditors have still not prepared the financial results besides the GST framework stipulates that once returns are filed in each state, it cannot be revised. Many companies fear this could mean that if there is a mistake it could be problematic. The fear is also that the companies, who miss out on filing the returns by December 31, may be the first ones to be scrutinised by the taxman. Most companies want the government to extend the deadline of filing these returns— GSTR 9 and GSTR 9 C — to March 31, 2019.
The problem is that both central and state officials are now empowered to investigate companies on GST liabilities and claims and take action against erring entities without bothering about jurisdiction. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in October asked central tax officers to initiate action if they detected tax evasion based on intelligence inputs even in companies that are under state tax authority.