Technical glitches continue to haunt the Goods and Services Tax Network

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Even after completion of one year of the new indirect tax regime, technical glitches continue to haunt the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) find it less user-friendly with missing features such as reset option and quarterly filing. However, officials at the GSTN claim that most of the issues faced by small traders have been sorted out and the system is constantly upgrading to meet the emerging demands. 

According to traders, trouble-shooting through the GST helpdesk has a longer turnaround time, which some time causes delay in filing returns, leading to imposition of penalty on them. “Lack of revision and reset option is a big problem for the filers. Earlier, there used to be a reset option which helped a tax filer to rectify the data in case of any error. We want reintroduction of that option so that filers can immediately correct the error than waiting till next month to do it,” Vijayalaksmi, head of tax advisory council of Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), said. 

She also said that despite changes in the tax filing cycle of SMEs with turnover of up to Rs 50 million to quarterly filing, the option is yet to be integrated in the software system. 

GST Council, in July this year, has decided to exempt small businesses with a turnover of up to Rs 50 million from monthly filing and allowed them to do quarterly filing of returns to ease compliance burden. However, despite this, SMEs are compelled to file monthly return as the option of quarterly filing is yet to be available on the platform. 

Small scale industry associations also flag up concerns regarding non-reflection of tax paid in the bill of entry as another problem area due to which many importers are not able to claim input tax credit (ITC).

GST helpdesk should have more human interface. Currently, if you raise a complaint, a ticket number is assigned to you and the trouble-shooting time is long,” T Umashankar, panel chair on GST at Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA) said. 

Since the implementation of GST in July last year, GSTN had been facing technical glitches starting from the very first month of its rollout. Because of this, the government has extended return filing due dates several times.

The current operator Infosys, which won the Rs 13.80 billion deal for developing and running the GST platform in 2015, declined to comment on this matter.

However, GSTN, the agency in charge of running the whole IT network of the new indirect tax system, said that new features like quarterly filing options would be introduced soon. 

"As far as reset option is concerned, this has been deliberately pulled out as the platform allows a trader to recheck the correctness of the data before submitting it. So, before a trader hits the file option, he can actually have a thorough check," said Prakash Kumar, CEO of GST Network.

He also said that the quarterly option for SMEs with turnover of up to Rs 50 million would be introduced from next financial year cycle.

"As I understand, quarterly filing will be from next cycle as we can't disrupt the current monthly cycle option," Kumar said

"Given the complexity level of GST and the mammoth scale, you have to appreciate that the system is now more or less seamless and Infosys as a vendor has done whatever is required," he added.

Challenges faced by SMEs
  • Lack of revision and reset option 
  • Absence of quarterly filing options 
  • Longer turnaround time for troubleshooting 
  • Difficulty in getting input tax credit

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