The Union finance ministry is finally ready to move ahead with the single monthly return system for the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a move that will simplify the process of filing returns and also getting input tax credit. The three-phase plan was announced last May to address complaints about the difficulties in filing multiple returns (and the higher cost of compliance). According to that plan, for six months, in a transition phase, businesses would continue to file two returns, GSTR1 (for sales) and GSTR 3B, a summarised return form. After six months, they would move to a single filing on a to-be-introduced form. For consumer-facing businesses, the simplified form would be about total sales while for business-facing businesses, the form would incorporate invoice details. That move was delayed while the back-end, the GST network (GSTN), was being made ready for this. Now, government officials directly familiar with the matter say the simplified form is ready, and could be launched by July, soon after the new government takes over.
No further clearances are required because the GST Council already cleared the three-phase plan last May. The third phase will involve invoice matching. The introduction of the new forms will reduce the annual compliance burden of traders from 24 GST returns (GSTRs) to just 12, apart from one return for the entire financial year, the officials said requesting anonymity. Technically, they would have had to file 36, but the second form GSTR 2 is not filed by most . July will see a trial run of the second phase, the officials cited above said. One of the major criticisms of GST was the compliance burden of filing returns. This was one of the reasons for the principal Opposition, the Congress party, to criticise the new tax regime. Traders, too, have been demanding a reduction in the number of returns to be filed.