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Tax officials to hold town hall to explain GST to traders
September, 05th 2016

In a first town hall on goods and services tax (GST), revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia and tax officials will address traders and industry on 17 September to clear doubts and create awareness on the landmark indirect tax regime set to kick in from 1 April next year.

The town hall is part of a massive outreach programme planned by the revenue department in the finance ministry.

Already radio jingles have started playing and plans are afoot to begin social media publicity through 3D animated characters.

“Gujarat is organising a town hall kind of meeting where revenue secretary, state finance minister Nitinbhai Patel and other senior officials of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) will over three-four hours address concerns and queries posed by traders and industry,” an official said.

The government is aiming to implement GST from 1 April 2017, and is trying to reach out to the common man and industry about the nuts and bolts of the new indirect tax regime.

The GST will subsume various indirect taxes levied by the central government and state governments, including excise duty, service tax, value-added tax, entertainment tax, entry tax and luxury tax.

Besides, registration to tax payment to file returns and refunds—all will be done electronically.

The revenue department has set aside a budget for the outreach programme that will also help acquaint traders and businessmen about processes to be followed for collecting and paying taxes under the GST regime.

“The 3D animated characters are usually eye-catching. We will make use of social media and educate people about the benefits. Gradually, we will also roll out YouTube commercials along with newspaper advertisements,” the official said.

The CBEC is planning a direct contact programme to reach out to the common man.

“We will ask the (income-tax) commissioners in every state to give interviews to local news channels and inform people about GST,” the official said.

Adhia has already said that a 24X7 call centre in every state will be formed which will answer queries relating to GST. Similarly, there will be a call centre for answering questions on GSTN for payment of taxes and claiming refunds.

“We have devised modules to train people about GST. We will put it out on social media. To the extent possible, our officers will conduct town halls in cities and towns to explain how GST will function. Detailed campaign will start across the country in December and till March we will explain to people about GST and how should traders comply with it,” Adhia had last week said.

After Parliament passed the Constitution Amendment Bill on 8 August, as many as 18 states have ratified the bill. The legislation will now be sent to the president for assent.

After the presidential assent, the government will notify the GST council.

The finance minister will head the council, which will comprise state finance ministers. The GST council will decide on the tax rate, cess and surcharges which are to be subsumed and also decide on the goods and services which would be exempted from the purview of the new indirect tax regime.


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