The all-powerful GST Council is set to discuss a proposal to exempt small businesses with annual turnover of less than Rs 2 crore from filing annual returns.
Senior officials said that despite three extensions for filing the returns, the number has been unsatisfactory. “It is ranging from 25-27 per cent despite extension of deadlines. The GST Council will discuss the issue in its meeting on September 20,” said an official.
He further said that the Council will decide if the mandatory return filing requirement be suspended for only 2017-18 or for subsequent financial years as well.
“There is also a view that government should wait till November 30 to see if the number of those filing returns goes up,” he said adding there would be many procedural issues that would be considered by the Council this time. As per official data, out of about 1.39 crore total assessees, nearly 85 per cent have an annual turnover of Rs 2 crore or less.
Tax experts said that the proposed move to dispense small taxpayers from filing annual returns would ease compliance burden and also help tax authorities focus on big assessees. “There is perhaps a need for rethinking. There is a view that why put more compliance burden on small taxpayers. The system is also not very robust,” said Amit Bhagat, Partner, indirect tax practice, Dhruva Advisors. At present, every GST assessee has to file an annual return in GSTR 9 forms.
MS Mani, Partner with Deloitte India said that during implementation of GST, most small traders and businesses had found it difficult to shift to GST and any relief to them would be a big help for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector. “If there is a compliance relief given to them for a year or two it will make GST much more acceptable for the MSME sector,” Mani noted.