‘I am not a big fish. But I am compelled to hire someone who knows how to file it’
Srinagar: Even after opposing the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017, the businessmen from the valley had to bow before the idea. Now that the business firms are filing tax return forms, they still cannot understand the complex method of filing the returns or forms online.
Office of the Commercial Taxes Department in Srinagar is packed these days with mostly the heads of small business firms trying to learn how to file the forms before the due date of the filing passes. Meeting the deadline is not the only issue. A simple accounting human error can mean huge trouble for them as there is no provision for them to update the filed form or correct the mistakes (change the figures) they make.
“At first, we resisted the idea of GST because it meant that Jammu and Kashmir will be dependent on Delhi economically. The government did what it had to do without considering our protests. Anyway, we had started to file this return and I swear it blows my mind. I cannot understand it. I am not a big fish. But I am compelled to hire someone who knows how to file it exactly,” says a local businessman, wishing to stay anonymous.
For now, he has been visiting a former Sales Tax Officer who would help him with filing the Value Added Tax (VAT) form. Both of them fail to understand the terms used in the form online. However, they had managed to file the forms. Little they did know that they had committed huge errors.
“I have spent my life filing these forms. We used to submit the hard copies easily. But then the whole system went online. I had to update myself. I had to learn how to use a computer and fill a VAT form online. That was also very complex but this GST is way too much,” says Gulam Mohammad, an ex-Sales Tax Officer.
“When he (the local businessman) came to me, I tried to help him. Initially, we had to file nil returns but we got confused when we have to mention our Purchases and Sales. Unfortunately, we mentioned the Purchases in place of sales and now we are not able to correct it. If it stays like this, he might have to pay the tax he actually never had to pay,” he explains while adding that he would easily file a return earlier whenever an amendment would have been required.
Speaking about the issue, an Accounts Officer from the Commercial Taxes Department told Free Press Kashmir that the terminology used in the forms is complex and even the officials get confused with it.
“A small businessman might not understand that B2B means Business to Business. The name ‘Sale’ cannot be seen anywhere. The word ‘Supplies’ is used there instead. So far, the errors made cannot be corrected. However, we are hopeful that it will be made simpler,” he says.
While talking to the Customer Service of the department, the customer care executive said that another form would soon show up on the website where the errors can be corrected.
However, till then, the businessmen will have to endure the mental pressure.
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The government of India has given the idea of GST a thought for 16 years. It began in 2006 during the Prime Ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After the playacting of various GST laws, GST was launched with effect from July 1, 2017 by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. However, it seems like the government only focused on collecting the tax from each and every firm and didn’t give much thought to making the process simpler and thus economical.
This is not for the first time when the businesses have had to face issues with filing the taxation forms. In 2014, the Commercial Taxes Department of Jammu & Kashmir, during the tenure of Omar Abdullah had decided to optimize the tax collection process through ‘efficient’ administration. A transaction above one crore was supposed to be filed online.
The process, even then, was not simple. And, today some dealers continue to file the returns incorrectly, some go to the officials for help, some watch videos online to get an idea and some pay hefty amounts to people who know how to file the return.
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