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Technical glitches behind GST annual returns deadline extension

Dipak Mondal     August 27, 2019

The date for filing annual returns and GST audit for 2017-18 has again been extended - this time by three months from 31 August to 30 November - due to technical glitches and problems faced in reconciliation.

According to tax experts, Excel Utility which is used to send and upload returns, was not up and ready till two days ago. Others said they were finding it difficult to file GSTR-9C, the reconciliation statement to be filed by taxpayers who are required to submit GST audit.

"The problem is that when you upload the form, the system asks for validation. For validation you have to generate XML, which you may not be able to generate. If the XML file is generated, the system will show errors," says Rajat Mohan, partner, AMRG & Associates. He, however, says the problem is mainly because most taxpayers use pirated and duplicate software. "If you have original software in your system, you may not face these problems," he says adding that taxpayers can use the services of ASPs and GSPs to easily file returns.

While technical glitch is one of the reasons, the bigger issue it seems is reconciliation of returns with financial statement, which is what the GSTR-9C is all about.

In 2017-18 taxpayers continued to file returns despite changes in laws and tax rates. So there were mistakes and differences with financial statements. As part of GST annual return and GST audit, taxpayers have to reconcile those returns with financial statements and when they reconcile, there are differences. So reconciliations are taking a lot of time as taxpayers fear if they report differences then there would be questions from the tax department.

Some experts also rue the fact that the government is asking too many details in GST annual returns. The objective, it seems, is to investigate all taxpayers, say some experts.

Pune-based chartered accountant Pritam Mahure said that filing both the annual return and GST audit is a lengthy process. "Both GSTR 9 and GSTR 9C have 10 pages each. GST annual return form has 19 tables and 350 boxes to punch. They are asking for HSN level details of all purchases in the returns," says Mahure while explaining the difficulties faced by taxpayers.

As part of GST Annual Return and GST Audit, two forms GSTR 9 and GSTR 9C are to be filed. GSTR 9 is consolidation of all returns filed while GSTR 9C is reconciliation of financial statements with the returns filed.

While 2017-18 annual returns and audit reports would now be filed only by 30 November, the due date for filing of annual returns and GST audits for 2018-19 is on 31 December 2019. There are other deadlines to be met and other things to be done. The new return system would be rolled out from October, e-invoicing to start from January 2020, and audit by GST officers is also due.

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