Frequent technical glitches in the GST Network (GSTN) website has become a big cause of inconvenience for businesses as last minute return filings and other compliances continue to get affected due to these tech snags.
On November 19, a day before the last date for filing returns for October, taxpayers faced problems in uploading their monthly GST returns - GSTR3B. Angry taxpayers and chartered accountants took to social media to vent their anger against the tax department and GSTN, which manage the website for filing returns and invoices.
They complained that this is the story every month as the GSTN website stops working for hours during last two days of filing returns.
The GSTN in its response issued a statement saying that the complaints about GSTN system not functioning were incorrect and that around 11.52 lakh returns were filed on that day with about 1.82 lakh returns being filed during the peak hour.
It, however, added: "Any online system has to have a load threshold and it is 1.5 lakh returns filing at a time for GST return filing system. If this threshold is reached then the site shows a message asking the taxpayer to wait for his turn in a few minutes."
"Some filers may have momentarily experienced being logged out at the load threshold of 1.5 lakh returns load at a particular point of time or some difficulty due to any local issue at the taxpayer filers' end."
However, this explanation has not gone down well with the taxpayers. They argued that the government should not make an excuse of limited load threshold now that there has been over two years since the implementation of the GST. They expect the system to work smoothly on prescribed due dates.
They also complained that frequent changes in the GST law mean that every month they have to wait until last week before the deadline for the complete clarity on the issue. So, the government cannot expect them to file returns a week ahead of the deadline.
Pritam Mahure, a Pune-based chartered accountant told Business Today that typically, accounts of taxpayers are closed on or after 17th of a month and computation of liability, reverse charge mechanism, reconciliation of data, etc take time.
He also argued that GST being a self-assessed tax requires taxpayers to do a thorough checking before submitting returns that means waiting till the last date.
This time around, the change in rules pertaining to availing input tax credit also came into effect and that also caused the delay.
Rajat Mohan, partner, AMRG & Associates, said, "October was the first month for the implementation of this new 20 per cent rule, which has been termed by many as unjust and unlawful, pushing the taxpayers close to finish line."
The government has recently restricted availing of input tax credit to 20 per cent on goods and services received by a taxpayer but whose invoices have not been uploaded (on the GSTN website) by the suppliers of the goods and services.
Later the government issued a few clarification related to the new law on November 11.
Rajat Mohan of AMRG & Associates, says that the government must give reasonable extension for filing tax returns especially when their own servers are incapable of taking massive load.
Taxpayers had demanded an extension of the deadline of filing GSTR3B returns, which the government has not accepted.
Archit Gupta, CEO, ClearTax, a GST Suvidha Provider, said that "taxpayers intermittently faced outage when submitting to GSTN, but we helped them get around by ensuring their data is ready, performing sanity checks and making sure it was filed as soon as GSTN was available".