Mix of needed and negatives

Topics GST | Goods and Services Tax | EXIM

In its 39th meeting, on March 14, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council took some practical and useful decisions. And, some controversial ones. 

The most notable was to charge interest for delay in payment of GST on net cash tax liability, with effect from July 1, 2017. For this purpose, the law is proposed to be amended retrospectively. This decision will bring considerable relief to many who had notices from the government to pay tax on the gross tax liability. 

The government should now examine whether it should issue suitable circulars or invoke the powers under Section 172 of the Central CGST Act and issue an order for removal of difficulties, rather than go for a legislative amendment, a tedious process that all state legislatures will then have to go through. 

Second, the changes must include provision for refund of interest paid by many on the basis of gross tax liability. 

Third, suitable safeguard must be built-in to make sure that freshly accumulated input tax credit is not used for working out the net tax liability. Fourth, the GST Network should enable part -payment of the tax liability.

Another useful decision was to amend the law  by prescribing a procedure for reversal of input tax credit in respect of capital goods partly used for affecting taxable supplies and partly for exempt supplies under Rule 43 (1) (c) of the CGST Rules.  The rules will be amended to allow for refund to be sanctioned in both cash and credit in a case of excess payment of tax. Bunching of refund claims will be allowed across financial years, to facilitate exporters.

The Council decided to defer implementation of the new e-invoice system and the new returns system by six months. 

Reconciliation statements in Form GSTR-9C need be furnished by only those with annual turnover of at least Rs 5 crore. 

The due dates for filing of the annual return and reconciliation statement for financial year 2018-19 are to be extended till end-June 2020. 

Late fees for delayed filing of this return and statement for financial years 2017-18 and 2018-19 for taxpayers with aggregate turnover less than Rs 2 crore will be waived. The present system of furnishing GSTR-1 and GSTR-3 returns will be continued till the end of September. 

There are many other useful decisions. These include issuing of circulars to clarifysome issues, extending the exemption from Integrated GST on import by export-oriented units, and under advance authorisations and export promotion capital goods authorisations, and so on. 

The controversial decisions include a ceiling to be fixed for the value of export for the purpose of calculation of refund on zero-rated supplies. And, to provide for recovery of refund on export of goods where the proceeds are not realised within the time prescribed under the Foreign Exchange Management Act of 1999 (Fema).

These proposed changes were not under discussion at any stage and are a surprise for exporters. If implemented, these will cause a lot of nuisance for exporters. The Customs Valuation Rules and Fema regulations have enough provisions to deal with overvaluation or non-realisation of export proceeds. GST laws need not deal with these issues. 

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