Earlier, the new simplified returns filing model, was expected to be implemented by January 2019. In July this year, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) had even put up the draft new GST return forms Sahaj and Sugam in the public domain and sought public comments. In fact, the GSTN had also started preparations to design these new GST return forms as early as September. However, the government seems to have postponed the roll out to 1st April 2019, in order to avoid any potential glitches in the process.
Until roll out, taxpayers will have to continue with the current system of GST returns, that is filing of Form GSTR 3B on a summary basis and filing of Form GSTR 1 on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on the turnover.
New GST Return Forms & Process – A Summary
As you may be aware, businesses and tax practitioners both seemed to face a few problems with the existing return filing process and forms – which had prompted the need for a new and simplified return filing process. As per the recent notifications, the new GST return forms will work on the concept of Upload-Lock-Pay, and will have the following features:
- All taxpayers shall file one monthly return, except small taxpayers having turnover below INR 5 crore, who could opt for quarterly filing
- Simpler return forms with only two main tables – one for reporting outward supplies and one for availing input tax credit based on invoices uploaded by the supplier
- Invoices can now be uploaded continuously by the seller and can be continuously viewed and locked by the buyer for availing input tax credit. This process will ensure that a very large part of the return is automatically filled based on the invoices uploaded by the buyer and the seller, thereby making the entire process less hectic
- The new GST return forms GSTR 9 and GSTR 3C will also help tax authority to detect evasion and false claims under GST, which is currently difficult to do in the absence of invoice matching
GST Revenue Collection Updates
In addition to the statement about the new GST return forms, the Revenue Secretary also provided some key updates about the GST revenue collections. During the 2018-19 budget, it was estimated that the annual GST collection will be INR 13.48 lakh crore, which meant a monthly target of INR 1.12 lakh crore. Mr. Pandey stated that the revenue department is getting regular inputs about entities that are evading taxes, and this could go a long way in helping the system achieve the desired annual GST collection. As per official records, in the first 8 months of the current financial year, i.e. from April to November 2018, the government has collected INR 7.76 lakh crore, which stands at a little over 85% of the target. At this rate, there could be a maximum shortfall of INR 90,000 crore by 31st March 2019, however the GST authorities are confident that this shortfall could be overcome, with processes becoming more seamless in the coming months. In addition, the Revenue Secretary also said that the GST refunds are picking up and the process is being further streamlined to make it completely online and user-friendly.
In short, businesses and tax practitioners have got an extra 3 months to prepare themselves for the new simplified GST returns. Further details are expected in the upcoming meeting of the GST Council, which will be chaired by Union Finance Minister and State counterparts, and will be held later this month.