Nirmala Sitharaman kicks off drill to make GST return filing easier

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday kicked off a nation-wide consultation with taxpayers, small businesses and accountants to make Goods and Services Tax (GST) return filing easier and more user friendly. The minister’s meeting with representatives of businesses and accountants in the capital on Saturday marks the beginning of second generation changes to the GST return filing system. The return filing system has already undergone several rounds of simplification, the latest being a simplified annual return and reconciliation form for the first two years of GST brought out earlier this week. The industry representatives and accountants demonstrated to Sitharaman the changes they wanted in the system.

Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, who was present on the occasion, told reporters that representatives of the Rajasthan Tax Consultants Association, Laghu Udyog Bharati, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) attended the meeting in addition to a senior chartered accountant from Kolkatta. Their demands included facility for making corrections to the data filed earlier and more flexible ways of downloading returns filed earlier. Pandey said that the finance minister suggested that on 7 December, a similar exercise will be done across the country in every tax circle by the officers concerned. Tax payers will be invited with their accountants so that the authorities could better understand their needs.

The Revenue secretary said that GSTN (the company that processes GST returns) and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) will consult on a regular basis to help the system evolve further. He said that if suggestions for improvement and better user interface comes to light, even if it is related to one small tax payer, it should be accommodated. “In some cases, they (tax payers and accountants) were not aware of the facilities available. In some cases, some clarificatory circulars will be issued. In some cases, the facilities were working, but further easing was sought,” said Pandey.

Tax payers will also be asked to give feedback about the new monthly return form that have been notified and are available for filing on a voluntary basis. These forms will become mandatory from April 2020. So far, 85,000 returns were filed in the new forms on a voluntary basis. “New GST return is available on the portal for trial. Consultations will be held all across the country on 7 December to receive feedback on the new system,” Sitharaman said in a tweet.

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