CBEC chairperson Vanaja N Sarna asked tax officials “to ensure non-filers of GSTR-3B (summary returns) are brought into the fold and made to file these returns”.
In what showed the government’s anxiety over the “high” transitional credit claims and absence of invoice-matching hitting the goods and services tax (GST) collections, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has sent another missive —the third in less than a month—to its field formations, warning against any laxity in the credit verification process. CBEC chairperson Vanaja N Sarna asked tax officials “to ensure non-filers of GSTR-3B (summary returns) are brought into the fold and made to file these returns”. Tax needs to be paid or nil tax liability claimed with the filing of GSTR-3B. Despite a gradual rise in the taxpayers registering on the GST Network (GSTN) to over 95 lakh, the first four months (July-October) saw only about 60 lakh of these filing even the summary returns. The more detailed ones —which include the invoice-wise details on inward and outward supplies—have anyway been suspended till March-end. While the government has relaxed many stringent compliance requirements including reverse charge mechanism, comprehensive returns filing, electronic way bill and tax collected at source, it has left the department with virtually no mechanism to identify evasion and plug revenue leakages.
Earlier this month, amid reports of large-scale evasion, the GST Council advanced implementation of electronic way bill—a mechanism to track transport of goods worth more than Rs 50,000 – to February, from April. However, most other suspended compliance provisions are unlikely to be activated before the next fiscal. Tax officials say the GST revenue for November, which will be announced this week, could be even lower than the October mop-up. While the monthly GST revenue collection in the July-September period seemed to have stabilised at around Rs 90,000 crore, the collections fell to Rs 83,000 crore in October. In the absence of granular data, the tax department had asked tax officials to manually collect information of the top 100 assessees in their jurisdiction. The officials were also asked to compare available details from GSTR-3B filings with data collected for the corresponding period last fiscal. However, officials said they encountered many uncooperative assesseess as an informal request to share information was not mandatory on them. “The collection of information manually is nearly impossible with the resources at the disposal of the department,” a tax officials said. He added that despite the problems the tax department was left with no option but to carry out the onerous exercise to the extent it could.