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Single tax return form under GST may come in by December
July, 02nd 2018

The single reworked tax return form under the goods and services tax (GST) may come in by December, said finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia. In an interview, Adhia elaborated how invoice matching with the help of the new tax return forms and the e-way bill system will help in checking tax evasion. Edited excerpts:

How has the one year of GST been? Do you think it has stabilized now?

Yes. I think GST has stabilized faster than we had thought and even when compared to other countries. The experience of other countries has not been that good with Malaysia being forced to shelve GST after three years.

The implementation of GST faced a lot of criticism and so did the frequent changes.

The problem was mainly because of technological glitches. The GST Council has met 27 times so far and we never shied away from making a course correction whenever it was required. If somebody says that making too many changes is the sign of inefficiency that I will not agree with. It is a sign of dynamism and that we are willing to listen to people and act upon it quickly.

So what will be the next phase of GST?

In the next phase there are two priorities. One is to bring in a single return form. We are hopeful the forms will come in by December. The second priority is to make changes in the law essential for improving the taxpayer experience.

What is the trend of revenue collection and compensation, especially for the manufacturing states? You have talked about how the aim is to collect Rs1 trillion in GST monthly.

All states are gaining, except a few where there is a major shortfall due to some congenital reasons. Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Bihar are some of the states where there is some deficit. But other states, including manufacturing states, because of the large consumer base as well as the service tax base, they have not suffered shortfalls as we had expected. Some states may require to be compensated for a longer period of time but many states will not require to be compensated for five years.

What is the strategy to check tax evasion?

In any system, people will try to defraud the government and it’s the work of tax officers to check it. The director general of GST investigation has detected evasion of more than Rs2,000 crore.

Once the new system of return filing comes, it will be increasingly difficult for anyone to evade taxes. We will be doing invoice-to-invoice matching month by month. Tax evasion will become difficult. E-way bill implementation will also help in tax evasion.

Is there scope for more rate cuts under GST?

There is no major scope for tax reduction as revenues have still not stabilized. The states are being compensated at 14% growth rate but what about the government of India?

If you take last year’s collections, the growth rate for both the states and the centre is about 13%.

Prasannata Patwa contributed to this interview.

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