With GST compliance remaining a big irritant for small businesses, the finance ministry is looking to set up facilitation centres on the lines of Aadhaar Seva Kendras to help traders and micro, small and medium enterprises file returns. The ministry is also looking at a new appbased solution for filing returns, sources told TOI. GST Network, the company that provides the information technology backbone, has been asked to look at the option, where some of the professionals aiding business entities in filing returns will be roped in.
GSTN is, however, of the view that GST alone may not generate sufficient footfalls and the idea could be expanded to cover income tax and even corporate filings, resulting a delay in finalisation of the plan. While the government has toyed with the idea of helping small businesses file returns in the past too, it has made little headway, despite compliance seen to be the biggest concern for over two-and-a-half years. Large businesses, which were more organised, have managed to make a transition and some have devised ways to make their suppliers compliant. For instance, one of the largest FMCG multinationals has linked the release of payments to filing of GST returns by its suppliers. Similarly, another large corporate house is completing the filing formalities for its vendors. But those who are not part of the chain are still finding return filing to be a problem and are now gearing up to deal with the new forms.
Officials said small businesses were depending on chartered accountants to file returns and maintain accounts. But CAs were themselves over-burdened and had taken up business beyond their capacity. In any case, a large part of the returns were being filed by accountants, who are working with CAs. “Earlier, these accountants would come and collect papers from traders and file returns. A similar system needs to be devised since businessmen are still not confident,” said a tax officer. The idea is to tie up with some of the service providers, who are handling filing part and make their services available at GST facilitation centres.