Interim GST relief to continue, e-way bills compulsory from 1 April

The all-powerful GST Council on Saturday chose to rollout the requirement of carrying an electronically generated bill for transporting goods between states from April 1 but failed to arrive at a consensus on simplification of tax returning filing procedure for businesses.

The GST Council, the body that takes all the GST related decisions, has chose to dump the earlier system of three monthly GST returns and instead chose to overhaul the whole system.

Rolled out from July 1, 2017, GST has subsumed over a dozen local taxes including excise, service tax and VAT.

However, the council failed to arrive at a consensus on simplifying the process of filing tax returns for businesses.

The Council has also suspended till June 30 the provision for deduction of TDS and collection of TCS by e-commerce operators.

The GST Council also chose to implement e-wallet scheme for giving refunds to exporters under GST by 1 October 2018.

The government would also take action against businesses as it has emerged that there is a variance between the amount of IGST paid and compensation cess paid by importers at customs ports and tax credit claimed in the GSTR3B form. "Each group will come under it every week after April 1 and efforts will be made to implement it across the country by April end", Jaitley said. Jaitley said the current system of GST return filing has been extended by three months.

"The council felt that there should be one simple return a month which is not prone to tax evasion..." Also, government agencies will not have to deduct 1% tax at source while paying their suppliers till 30 June. "The existing system will continue for three more months", said the minister. The pre-GST schemes are being continued as paying taxes first and seeking refunds later-the norm in GST-affects liquidity of the exporter.

"The indication that the decision on returns would be taken after consultation with tax experts and others (presumably industry bodies) is a welcome indication".

Public conveyance has also been included as a mode of transport and the responsibility of generating e-way bill in case of movement of goods by public transport would be that of the consignor or consignee.

The inter-state e-way bill last December was approved for an early mandatory roll-out from 1 February but due to technical glitches, it was deferred.

E-way Bill will be implemented from April 1 for inter-state movement of goods, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today.

In its meeting held on October past year the Council had noted that exporters are experiencing difficulties of cash blockage on account of having to upfront pay GST / IGST on the inputs, raw materials etc. / finished goods imported / procured for purposes of exports.

Vanessa Coleman