GST is considered the greatest reforms in India since the country got her independence in 1947. The Goods and Services Tax was introduced to eliminate all the downsides and loopholes in the taxation structure of the nation. GST has not only been beneficial for building up a strong economic foundation of India but has also supported all of her inhabitants and citizens, especially small businesses.
Among the many benefits of GST, the most important one is that it subsumes and replaces all other indirect taxes that ever existed in the pre-GST period. With GST economy of India has been strengthened to a great extent. However, one of the major reasons for introducing GST is to ensure that small-scale businesses are benefitted which used to suffer before it came into force.
Modifications in GST Portal that Benefitted Small Businesses
Earlier this year, the Government of India has made several changes in the GST portal which have brought great relief to the taxpayers. One needs to know about these significant features and stay updated so as to enhance their taxpaying experience and to prevent notices being issued to them by the government. Below is a list of some of the most significant updates in the GST portal that have been made over the last six to eight months:
One can choose the bank while making payments
Previously, whenever a taxpayer wanted to make an online payment, a particular bank account used to get selected automatically. The taxpayers were given no option for choosing their preferred bank account while making an online payment on the GST portal. This was very problematic, especially for small businesses who usually find it difficult to keep sufficient balance in a particular bank account at all times. Keeping in mind the ease of a taxpayer while making an e-payment, the GST portal has been updated with a ‘Preferred Banks’ option.
Now the taxpayer can select from up to six bank accounts of their choice from the drop-down list that appears after one has selected the ‘Preferred Banks’ option on the ‘Generate Challan’ page. Taxpayers are no longer required to enter their bank details every time they make a payment, as these will be automatically saved.
However, if you are paying for the first time using a particular bank account, you have to select ‘Net Banking’ option and then choose your desired bank. In other words, up to six of your previously chosen banks would be saved and you can select from them. The moment you make a payment from a seventh bank account, it will be added to the list by replacing the least used one.
Quarterly GSTR-1 filers can make monthly refund applications
Previously, taxpayers who file GSTR-1 quarterly had a restriction of making a refund application too on a quarterly basis. According to the new rule, however, the taxpayers preparing GSTR-1 can now make an application for a refund each month. Tax filers submitting GST returns quarterly, no longer need to wait for filing their refund applications quarterly as well. This is a significant change in the GST portal and has been beneficial, especially for SMEs. It will help to mobilize and boost the cash flows since one doesn’t need to wait for the end of the quarter for filing a refund. However, one can only make a refund application if one has filed GSTR-1 for that particular quarter.
New APIs released for assessment and judgment
To make it more convenient for the taxpayer to pay off their liabilities through the online portal of GST, new and upgraded APIs (Application Program Interface) has been released, which include the following –
Assessment of non-filers of returns – As per section 62 of the GST Act of India, the proper and concerned officer is given the right to make the best judgment or assessment if any registered taxpayer fails to furnish and submit the return under section 39 of the act or the final return under section 45, even after issuing of notice as per section 46. This assessment is now done by the automated API itself in case the officer fails to issue it on time, thus facilitating the process.
Summary assessment – It is invoked by a GST officer against a person who is found to have a tax liability. So such an API in the GST portal itself would help you to pay your taxes on time and also to keep your papers and documents in order so as to prevent yourself from receiving further legal notices or penalties.
Mistakes are rectified by the API, thus making the tax payment process error-free and accurate. This update made in January of this year is to help taxpayers, especially those associated with small businesses, to file flawless returns.
Previously, businesses used to lose their tax credits due to simple and minor errors while filing their returns. Crores of tax credits used to get denied due to these non-technical human errors. This caused many of the businesses to suffer by losing their credits altogether. Some even considered taking the matter higher up to the judiciary.
Therefore to prevent the loss of tax credits, especially for small businesses, this significant reform is added in the GST economy structure and its online portal. All your filings will be analyzed by the API and any occurrences of errors will be checked and notified automatically.
Appeals filed by Taxpayers or the Tax Department would get auto-approved
This is a new functionality that has been enabled in the GST portal this year. According to the rule that exists, an Appellant – taxpayer or Tax department, will have to submit their appeal applications to the First Appellate Authority. However, the appellant needs to furnish all their necessary certified copies either within 7 days of the application or within the time frame allocated. The Appellate Authority will either accept the appeal by issuing the final acknowledgment or dismiss the application if it identifies any violation of rules or the presence of any errors.
If, however, the Appellate Authority fails to issue the concerned appellant with a final acknowledgment within the stipulated time, then a system generated final acknowledgment statement would be issued to the taxpayer or tax department with the message that it is subject to a validation of the certified copies. The appellant, therefore, doesn’t need to wait for the Appellate Authority to issue the acknowledgment.
All data can be imported from the E-Way Bill into GSTR-1
Earlier, one had to fill in each and every detail about the outward supplies manually while generating E-Ways Bills or outward supplies. This was not only time consuming but also was subjected to the risks of errors. But according to the new update in the GST portal, taxpayers can now import all these details about outward supplies including invoice number, date, HSN code, quantity, tax rates, Consignee GSTIN and the like (as indicated in the E-Way Bill), while filing GSTR-1. One simply needs to click on the ‘Import EWB Data’ button in the GSTR-1 page itself on the web portal of GST.
With these major and much-needed changes in the online portal of GST economy of our nation is sure to be stronger than before. Taxpaying is made more transparent and convenient with such improved technologies and features being added to the web portal of the Goods and Services Tax. Making such small upgrades on a regular basis is going to help small and medium businesses to pay taxes more conveniently, thereby consolidating the overall GST structure.