Person filing tax return forms. (Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

Conversion Of GSTN To State-Owned Entity Still A Few Months Away

Conversion of the Goods and Services Tax Network into a state-owned entity is still a few months away with approvals from central and state governments yet to come through.

The procedural formalities of making GST’s information technology backbone into a 100 percent government-owned entity are currently underway, GSTN Chairman Ajay Bhushan Pandey told BloombergQuint. “I hope that within the next few months, this process will be over,” he said.

That’s after the GST Council recently approved a proposal allowing the government to acquire the 51 percent stake held by private entities in GSTN. Subsequently, the central government will acquire a 50 percent stake in GSTN while state governments will collectively hold the remaining 50 percent. The central and state governments currently hold 24.5 percent stake each in GSTN while the remaining 51 percent is held by HDFC Ltd., HDFC Bank Ltd., ICICI Bank Ltd., NSE Strategic Investment Co and LIC Housing Finance Ltd., according to data on GSTN’s website.

Taxation is a State function and should be undertaken by a government-run body, Pandey said. “In the beginning, the whole programme had to take off and therefore, considering the exigencies of the requirement, this formulation of GSTN as a private entity was worked out,” he added.

Improved Return Filing Under GST?

While government data shows a large gap between the number of registered taxpayers under GST, and those who file monthly GSTR-3B returns, Pandey said it’s an improvement over the earlier regime. About 60.5 lakh taxpayers had filed GSTR-3B returns for March out of 87 lakh eligible taxpayers as on April 31. The return filing data is released with a one-month lag.

The endeavour under this regime would be that each taxpayer “even if he has to file a nil return, can do it in three clicks,” he added.

He expects compliance to improve in the new return filing system as invoices will get uploaded to the GSTN portal at the time they are generated, automatically filing a taxpayer’s return. “The idea is when the invoices are getting generated and being uploaded, the relevant information can be taken out by the system, and returns will be auto-generated,” he said, adding that taxpayers can make revisions if any.

Watch the full interview here: