GST Council makes filing of returns easier for traders

The Centre may bring an Ordinance to impose a sugar development cess if the GoM decides in its favour, according to sources.

In a major decision that can save a lot of time for traders and enhance tax compliance, the GST Council on Friday decided to simplify return filing that will require a tax payer to file only one return every month but this could take at least six months to streamline from the current cumbersome tax filing.

“It will take about six months for GSTN to prepare for it, so for that period the current arrangement of GSTR3B and GSTR 1 will continue. This will be the first phase of transition where the current system will continue for the next six months,” Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told reporters after a seven-hour long GST Council meeting.

The Council also decided to turn the GST network into a wholly owned government body but deferred a decision to levy a cess on sugar saying the crucial issue will be decided by a Group of Ministers (GoM), which has already been set up.

The Centre may bring an Ordinance to impose a sugar development cess if the GoM decides in its favour, according to sources.

Besides, the Council formed a committee to decide on incentives over digitised payment of GST levy by traders after most of the states favoured 2% cash back on digital payment.

After Friday's decision, the Centre and states together will hold 100% stake in GSTN. Earlier they held only 49% in the GST Council with the remaining being held by five non-government financial institutions including HDFC, ICICI Bank and LIC Housing Finance Ltd.

“Considering the nature of ‘state’ function performed by GSTN, the Council felt that GSTN be converted into be a fully owned government company,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the Council meeting held through video conferencing.

Keeping in view the record production of sugar in the current season and consequent depressed sugar prices pushing up sugar cane arrears, the Council discussed the issue of imposition of sugar cess and reduction in GST rate on ethanol in great detail.

The council has recommended for setting up of a Group of Ministers from state governments to look into the proposal and make recommendations, within two weeks, keeping in mind the views expressed in GST Council in this regard, Jaitley said.

According to West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, only two states – Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra were in favour of levying a cess on sugar and rest of all disagreed.

The GST Council also formed a panel to consider incentives on digitised payments after a majority of states favoured a 2% cash back on digital payments. The Council suggested setting up of a five-member panel to consider incentives on digitised payments.


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