Single tax return form under GST will be available soon: Hasmukh Adhia
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the GST, Hasmukh Adhia said that 4 tax slabs have helped us in protecting the poor and middle classed in the country, as a single slab would have had a negative impact on them
Hasmukh Adhia, Finance Secretary, in an exclusive interview with Anil Singhvi, Managing Editor, Zee Business, said there are three big things that have been achieved after launching the goods and services tax (GST) and they are revenue growth, restriction of inflation and good GDP growth. On the occasion of the first anniversary of the GST, Adhia said that 4 tax slabs have helped us in protecting the poor and middle classed in the country, as a single slab would have had a negative impact on them. He also added, we are working to simplify the process of filing tax returns. Here are edited excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Q: what is the biggest achievement after launching GST, the country's biggest tax reform?
A: There are three big things that we gained after the launch of GST. They are restriction of inflation, revenue growth of nearly 12-13 per cent, GDP growth during the last three quarters of FY 2018, in second, third and fourth quarters the growth stood at 6.7 per cent, 7.1 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively. We got a good GDP growth in spite implementation of GST.
Q: Since its implementation, GST has stabilised after witnessing certain problems. During our shows, we concluded that people, mainly the business class, still wants simplification of the process. What will the government be doing in next one year?
A: The existing process is easy but we will be working to end small problems that are visible in the system. In fact, a new and simple system for filing the returns will be launched soon. The new system will ease the mechanism of providing the data that is essential for invoice matching. Till then the existing process of invoice matching process will continue as its absence will end the meaning of implementation of GST.
Q: Let's come to tax slabs. One tax slab should be practised in case of One Nation One Tax but it seems to be difficult seeing the size of our country. But there is a demand that calls for the removal of 28 per cent slab or reduce the number of items that is included in the slab. What do you have to say on this?
A: See, we also believe that there should be fewer slabs or a single slab. But, the single slab will have a direct impact on the poor and middle-class people of the country and is not being implemented with an aim to protect them. Actually, there is a huge difference between the consumption of rich and poor and we consider that the poor must not be burdened with our tax structure. And that is a reason that 50 per cent goods that are present in the consumption basket of India are exempted from the list or have been kept under 0 per cent tax system. Remaining 50 per cent items have been placed under 5 per cent and 12 per cent slab.
Besides protecting the poor and middle-class of the country, the four tax slabs have allowed us to keep inflation under control.
Currently, we have only 50 items including products, like cigarettes, aerated drinks and high-end mobiles, on which an additional cess is enforced under the 28 per cent slab. However, there are certain products that will be brought out of the bracket but such a decision will be taken by the council after our revenues reach a level where such a sacrifice can be made.
Q: You have achieved to a revenue of about Rs 1 lakh crore.
A: But, it is not a regular revenue; it was a revenue of just a month.
Q: What is the target of the government?
A: It has a minimum target of minimum Rs 1 lakh crore per month across the year.
Q: We have touched the mark of Rs 1 lakh crore in the advanced tax data that was released in the recent past.
A: It is a gross figure it is not a net figure. While calculating the revenues, you will have to calculate the refunds that we make. Refunds for the year 2017 stood at Rs 38,000 crore (approx).
Q: Easy tasks under GST have been taken, but by when will a decision on tough tasks, like bringing petroleum products under its ambit, be taken?
A: See, there are five petroleum products. And I feel discussions on 2 of those 5 items, namely natural gas and ATF, should be started at the earliest. But I can't say about the timing of discussed and the kind of decision that will be made as it lies in the hands of GST Council. In addition, there are big revenues implications on the remaining three items and the council will also take a discussion on it.
Q: Can you tell us about the new things that the government is planning to do on GST in next one year?
A: Our immediate step in GST is to bring certain legal changes in the structure, which has received an in-principle approval from the council. But will be presenting a draft during the next council meeting. These legal changes will be brought to facilitate the taxpayers of the country.
Secondly, we are making a regular system of tax return filing, the plan has been approved by the council. Right now, we are working on its form and software. The software will be tested before being made public.
Q: GST is being liked by people but they want simplification in the process of tax return filing among others. Is there any plan to provide any relief to the small level businessmen?
A: They have a facility. For instance, there are nearly 17-18 lakh composition dealers, who are supposed to pay their taxes and file returns once in three months. Interestingly, while filing their returns, they are just supposed to provide the data on their turnover, nothing else. Apart from this, there are few people who come under the list of zero-tax filers and it includes people who have their GST registration number but don't have any transactions. We can plan to take them into the quarterly cycle of filing their returns in which they will just have to visit the site and submit details just with a click, where he will have to reply to a simple question like, 'do you have any transactions report', if not, then just submit your returns and it is done.