In a bid to bridge the lag in actual revenue accrual, the finance ministry will from this fiscal shift to cash basis accounting for the Goods and Services Tax where monthly collections will be reported on the first working day of the following month.
So far, monthly tax returns under GST, which has amalgamated 17 central and state taxes into one, were allowed to be filed by the 20th of the following month and revenues collected were reported on 26th – almost a month-long lag between collections and their reporting. This had led to a situation wherein the government was able to collect tax revenue for only 11 months in the first year of GST rollout.
To overcome this, GST collections for the month of April will be reported on actual basis on May 1, officials said.
Technically, GST collections for March should have been reported this week. But to enable a switchover to the cash-basis accounting, only the Integrated-GST – which is levied on inter-state movement of goods as well as imports – will be shown in the March tax collection. This amount is about Rs 20,000 crore, an official said.
The March collection of Central GST and State GST would be reflected in April data which would be made public on May 1, he said.
So, the April numbers, which will be released on May 1, would be highly inflated as it would contain the collections made in April as well as CGST and SGST collections of March. From May onwards, the monthly collections of CGST, IGST and SGST would be reported on June 1.
"Moving to cash basis accounting and reporting the amount of tax received in a particular month immediately after the month end will reflect better accounting position for the GST collections," the official told PTI.
The official said the finance ministry will in a day or two come out with the month-wise GST collection data for the entire 2017-18 fiscal and for the month of March it will only account for IGST revenues of about Rs 20,000 crore collected during the month.
Currently, summary returns GSTR-3B for a particular month is filed by the 20th day of the subsequent month.
"The April GST collections could see a spike over the previous months as along with IGST collections for the same month, and CGST and SGST collections for March, there would be some returns which would filed in the month well in time. The GST proceeds would stabilise from the second month onwards," the official said.
Since the government had in 2017-18 Budget accounted for only eight months (July-February) revenue, shifting to cash basis accounting will be easier for computing government revenues.
As per official data, GST collection for February was Rs 85,174 crore, while the collection in January was Rs 86,318 crore. In December and November, GST collections were Rs 88,929 crore and Rs 83,716 crore respectively.
"April is the best month to change the method of accounting, especially in the scenario where the tax collections in 2017-2018 was quite bumpy and lacked comparability due to numerous reasons," AMRG & Associates Partner Rajat Mohan said.