This is the end of Twitter as far as the goods and services tax (GST) is concerned. The indirect tax authorities will no longer answer queries on GST by tweet. The government has decided to discontinue the GST@GoI (@askGST_GoI) account launched a year ago — ahead of the July 1 rollout — to quickly respond to the many questions taxpayers had about the new levy.
“It was meant to address multiple queries on real-time basis by way of handholding,” said an official aware of the development. “Now that phase is over — hence this step.” The government always maintained that the tweets had no legal standing and were issued as guidance, but taxpayers came to rely on them to adopt tax positions that sometimes resulted in penalties. Subsequently, industry has demanded the withdrawal of those penalties.
The government is of the view that with a fully functional and robust, formal system of engagement in place, urgent responses over Twitter are no longer required now. The last GST related direct tweet from the handle was on August 1, seeking public comments on the new GST return forms. Since then it has only been retweeting tweets from other government accounts and once pointed to PIB press releases on impact and awareness of GST, GST compensation to states, filings of GST return and anti-profiteering mechanism under GST. The last activity from the account was on August 14 when it retweeted one from @PMOIndia.
Still, there have been worries over some of the advice provided, including that on employee costs incurred by the corporate office and how that relates to branches. The Twitter handle said since these are in the nature of services provided by employee to employer, no GST would be applicable. This appears to have been at variance with the rules.