Businesses who paid taxes under the Value-Added Tax (VAT) regime but had not filed their returns since the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax could soon have the taxman knocking on the door, the Central Board of Excise and Customs, the apex decision-making body for indirect taxation in the country has indicated.
Directions have been issued to field offices to get in touch with businesses who had not filed the GST returns, the CBEC said, adding that it had shared region-wise data with the Regional Commissioners to handhold them if they were facing difficulties in filing returns under the new indirect tax regime.
"Field offices know which businesses used to file tax in the earlier regime. Now we have shared with them the initial GSTR-3B return data to match if anyone who is eligible for paying taxes in the new regime is left out," an official said.
About one crore businesses have registered themselves on the GST Network portal. Of this, about 72 lakh have migrated from the erstwhile excise, service tax and VAT regime.
Under the GST, businesses with turnover of up to Rs 20 lakh are exempt. This threshold is higher than the earlier service tax or VAT.
"We would go easy on businesses as we have just switched to a new taxation system. However, there are traders and businesses who have registered under GST and have not filed returns. We have asked our field formations to get in touch with them to check if they need some handholding," he added
Out of the one crore registered businesses, 15 lakh businesses have opted for composition scheme and will file returns quarterly.
Of the remaining, 55.87 lakh businesses filed GSTR-3B returns in July, 51.37 lakh for August and over 42 lakh in September.
"A significant number of businesses who have not filed returns actually have nil tax liability. They might be thinking that they do not need to file returns because they do not have to pay tax. We need to handhold them towards filing returns," the official said.
At its 23rd meeting in Guwahati last week, the GST Council had cut penalty for delayed GST filing from Rs 200 to Rs 50 for businesses with no tax liability.
(With PTI inputs)