GSTN off to flying start, big test ahead

NEW DELHI: Thirteen lakh new taxpayers under the GST ambit within weeks of the new tax’s rollout has come as a “real surprise”, the head of the IT network that supports the tax reform measure said.

“The numbers are a real surprise. When we started designing the system we reviewed the growth trends in taxpayer base under VAT and service tax. It was around 4% to 5%,” Navin Kumar, chairman, Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), told TOI.

GSTN has been set up to provide IT infrastructure and services for governments, taxpayers and other stakeholders. “On a base of 80 lakh, 5% is about 4 lakh. We estimated for 4 lakh-5 lakh additional taxpayers in a year. But within five weeks, it was 13 lakh,” Kumar said. Nearly 72 lakh more have migrated from the existing base. Kumar said the system has coped well with the huge inflow of data and that “all apprehensions have been proved wrong” regarding its robustness. The increase in new registrations could have been driven by taxpayers’ belief that the system, now automated, makes it easier to deal with businesses.

“The system makes the claim for input tax credit transparent and firm. Once the seller uploads invoice data and the purchaser accepts it, input tax credit is assured, which was not the case under VAT. Also, some new sectors have been brought under taxation,” he said. The next challenge is the interim returns that will be filed from August 20 and the matching of returns from September. “Integration with 25 banks is complete. People filing interim returns should face no problems paying via the portal.”