Taxpayers for goods and services are set to scale the one-crore mark, marking a 25% jump in the number of taxpayers who were registered for payment of excise duty, VAT and service tax. “We will have one crore taxpayers in a day or two,” said a government official.
By Christmas, the government had managed to attract 99 lakh entities to register for GST, of which 16.6 lakh were composition dealers who are entitled to file quarterly returns without detailed invoices.
When GST started, there were around 80 lakh taxpayers, many of whom were registered for payment of multiple taxes. For instance, a company could have registered for VAT, excise as well as service tax.
So, the actual tax base was lower. Sources, however, said that the base may dwindle around June when several of the registered entities can drop out on completion of one year of registration. A large number of people who had rented out commercial property had registered for GST and are expected to now go out of the system.
While the base has increased, a bulk of the registered taxpayers are paying zero tax, indicating that they have no liability. On last count, almost 40% of the returns that were filed had shown no tax liability.
There are only a handful of companies, running into a few thousand which account for a majority of the taxes that are collected.
What has compounded the problem for the government is the waiver of late payment penalty and other relaxations in filing of returns. While there was a rush to file returns over the last three days, the compliance for previous months remains low. On Monday, nearly six lakh returns were filed, while the number went up by a lakh on Tuesday as the deadline for Wednesday neared.
“The systems are working fine and GST Network has increased the capacity,” explained an official amid rumours that the system had slowed down, forcing the government to extend the deadline — something that the finance ministry stoutly denied.
(This article was originally published in The Times of India)