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GSTN to go in for third-party audit of its software: Prakash Kumar

GSTN to go in for third-party audit of its software: Prakash Kumar

Prakash-kumar-GSTN

GSTN has decided to go in for third-party audit of its software developed by Infosys to ensure that all changes in law are adequately captured and its performance is not lagging on any count, a senior official said.

GST Network operates the IT backbone for collection of Goods and Services Tax (GST) data of over 1.11 crore registered business entities. A third-party audit will ensure that data filed with GSTN is adequately secured and there are no glitches.

GST Network Chief Executive Prakash Kumar said third-party audit is a standard practice which is followed by banking and financial institutions.

“Whenever the law is changed or any circular is issued, we have to change the software. We need to have a third party to audit whatever software changes have been made by Infosys. So this is third-party expert audit,” Kumar told PTI in an interview.

He said currently the GSTN team audits the software changes which are brought about after any change in law.

“But we want a third-party auditor to certify that whatever changes has been brought about in the law, similarly the software has been changed, not more, not less,” Kumar said.

Last year, the Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) Directorate, which is under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, had audited GSTN to check the security of the system.

The audit also encompassed other aspects like mechanism to enhance the resilience of the critical and sensitive GST IT network.

“Entire product which has been developed by Infosys it has been audited once by STQC. STQC will not audit every time. But, for all the changes that have been made I need a third-party to certify.

This will be a continuous audit of what changes have been made, as per ISO requirement. Not only functional audit, but also performance audit. These would be technological auditors,” Kumar said.

Since the rollout of the GST from July 1, 2017, GSTN has handled 11.5 crore returns and processed 376 crore invoices.

Currently, over 1.11 crore businesses are registered under the GST regime, of which 63.76 lakh have migrated from the erstwhile service tax and VAT regime, and 47.72 lakh are new registrants. As many as 17.61 lakh businesses have opted for composition scheme under GST.

Source :  The Economic Times
GST returns filing: Compliance optimal now at 70%, says GST Network’s chief executive

GST returns filing: Compliance optimal now at 70%, says GST Network’s chief executive

With close to 70% of the 1.1 crore businesses registered for the goods and services tax (GST)GST-Return filing the returns by the deadline, the compliance level is now satisfactory, GST Network’s chief executive officer Prakash Kumar told FE, adding that the vexed issue of delays in refunds to exporters has also been fully resolved for those pay integrated GST and seek to get it back.

In the initial months since GST’s July 2017 launch, just a little over half of the registered taxpayers used to file returns (and pay tax) by the deadline (the 20th of the next month). While overall taxpayer base has expanded over months from around 64 lakh at the start, the number of monthly return-filers also has risen. According to Kumar, almost all taxpayers who have a tax liability are now filing the returns. “These numbers are in line with what we had in the VAT regime. Even in the case of income tax returns, there are 25 crore PANs but only over 6 crore people who actually file the returns,” he added.

Among exporters, those who pay integrated GST (IGST) and file refund applications with “the correct details” were getting the refunds in four to five working days, he added. The prospect of prompt refunds, he said, encouraged exporters to use the fully automated IGST route rather than the letter of undertaking route, which doesn’t involve tax payment but only refund of input tax credits. Exporters are eligible for refund of tax content in export goods as such such sales overseas are zero-rated.

“Refund process for claims filed since February has largely been smooth. We have been clearing refunds everyday and it has become relatively error-free,” Kumar said. Exporters have to declare the identical details to the customs department as well as to the IT backbone for GST refunds but failure to match details in earlier days had led to refunds getting stuck.

Also Read: Goods and Service Tax refunds to exporters top Rs 12,000 crore, only 40% payment left

However, Kumar added that the input tax credit (ITC) route for exporters still suffered from delays as it was not completely automated and tax officials were required to verify details before sanctioning refunds. Apart from exporters, ITC refunds are also claimed by businesses supplying GST-exempt goods and those dealing in goods with inverted duty structure.

“We had the software for even automated ITC refund but it would work only with GSTR-2 and 3 forms, which have remained suspended. Since there is no validation with GSTR-2 and 3, the time-consuming task of manual interference is required,” he said.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has had to undertake special refund drives — one in March and the other earlier this month — to ensure that refunds are cleared with manual intervention and checks. At the beginning of the second such drive, the government had said that Rs 14,000 crore of refund claims were stuck.

GSTN will start work on the new simplified return-filing system after the tax department moots the final draft (software modules related to appeals, investigation and assessment are currently being developed). Detailed returns are crucial for invoices-matching, which is integral to check tax evasion.

XaTTaX: Your automated Eway bill compliance is just a click away!

Source :  Financial Express
GSTN has prepared system for 75 lakh GST e-way bills daily: Prakash Kumar

GSTN has prepared system for 75 lakh GST e-way bills daily: Prakash Kumar

Prakash-kumar-Eway Bill

Goods and services tax network (GSTN), the information technology backbone of the new indirect tax regime, completes five years on 28 March. In an interview, Prakash Kumar, its chief executive officer, talks about the challenges GSTN faces, the criticism it has encountered for technological glitches, the steps it has taken to protect taxpayer information as well as ensure a successful GST e-way bill rollout from 1 April.

How challenging has the task of creating the tax network for GST been?

It has been quite challenging. The company was incorporated in 2013 and the initial years were spent in staffing and hiring the technology provider. Though we picked Infosys in 2015, the work started in earnest only after the draft GST law was released in June 2016. We prepared all our systems based on this draft law. But in March 2017, the laws were modified in a big way. That was a big setback for us. We had to reorient a lot of things and make a lot of changes. We had initially designed one registration form for all taxpayers irrespective of whether they are composition dealers or inter-state dealers. But now we have separate forms. Similar was the case for return forms where major changes were made quite late. This forced us to release the forms in a phased manner.

The GST Council is again considering changing the return forms. Do you think this time around it will be a smooth process?

We have suggested to the government that we should be given sufficient time to develop, test and then make them available to everyone. This will ensure that when they start using the system, there will be no surprises. I hope this happens. It is the entire ecosystem which has to make the changes including the accountant software companies, GSPs (GST suvidha providers) and the taxpayers. They also have to be given time.

What are the key learnings? 

We knew that for any software development, one has to give sufficient time between the development process and implementation. But unfortunately, we had time pressure. Because the Constitution was amended, the government had to bring in GST before September 2017.

Ideally, the GST laws should have been brought in earlier. But one has to appreciate that the centre and the states were abdicating their taxation rights. So it was bound to take time.

GSTN’s ownership structure—the fact that it is a private sector entity—has also been questioned…

I do not think it is a issue. We have got the flexibility to hire people with technical expertise at market salaries. We bring in neutrality as well as the expertise to handle this kind of a big information technology project.

Are there enough safeguards to protect confidentiality of data?

None of us in GSTN has access to any individual data. The data is seen by only two people—the person who uploads the data and the tax officer who has jurisdiction over the taxpayer. The database is in an encrypted form. All data mining is done at a collective level. The database administrator does not have full access to all data pertaining to a taxpayer. If he has access to registration information, he will not have access to any other data.

Are you prepared for the rollout of the GST e-way bill the second time around?

We have made a lot of changes. NIC (National Informatics Centre) has upgraded the infrastructure. We have tested the system for the number of e-way bills that can be generated. We have prepared the system for 75 lakh e-way bills daily as against 26 lakh before. We have also decided to first start with inter-state e-way bills from 1 April and then move to intra-state later. You cannot estimate intra-state volumes. So that is why we have sought a staggered rollout for intra-state bringing in only 4-5 states in one go.

 

Offline version for GSTR-4 preparation launched on GST portal

Offline version for GSTR-4 preparation launched on GST portal

Offline version for GSTR-4 launched on GST portal

Flagging off preparation for the filing of GSTR-4, the quarterly return for taxpayers who have opted for Composition Levy, the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) introduced an offline tool on the GST Portal for the same.

“GSTR-4 return can be prepared only using the Offline Tool. This has been done to facilitate small businesses who can prepare the same on their own computers as per their convenience. Since they will be working offline, they do not need to be connected to the Internet,” said Prakash Kumar, CEO, GSTN.

The offline tool will also allow the taxpayers check final payable amount and save the return for future use. Once they are fully satisfied, they can press a button to create the return file which they will need to upload to the portal. Only for uploading the file, they will need to connect to the internet.

Also Read: Steps to ease method of filing GST returns

The Offline tool is available on GST portal and can be downloaded by taxpayers and tax consultants.

For the unversed, the composition levy is an alternative method of levy of tax designed for small taxpayers whose turnover is up to Rs. 1 crore (Rs 75 lakh in case of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh).

The objective of composition scheme is to bring simplicity and to reduce the compliance cost for the small taxpayers. Moreover, it is optional and the eligible person opting to pay tax under this scheme can pay tax at a prescribed percentage of his turnover every quarter, instead of paying tax at the normal rate. Such taxpayers have to file returns once a quarter.

The businesses dealing only in goods can opt for composition scheme. Service providers have been kept outside the scope of this scheme, except those providing restaurant services.


XaTTaX: Cloud and On-Premises Based GST Filing Software For India

Source :  Business Standard
GST refund claims for exporters for August, September to start this week

GST refund claims for exporters for August, September to start this week

GST Refund

Exporters can soon start claiming refunds for goods and services tax (GST) paid in August and September as GST Network (GSTN) will this week launch an online application for processing of refund, its chief executive officer Prakash Kumar said Monday.

GSTN, the company handling IT infrastructure for the indirect tax regime, has from 10 October started issuing refunds to exporters for integrated GST (IGST) they paid for the month of July, after matching GSTR-3B and GSTR-1.

For August and September, while the initial return GSTR- 3B has already been filed, the final return GSTR-1 has not yet been filed. “A separate online app for claiming integrated GST (IGST) refunds for August and September would be made available on GSTN portal this week,” Kumar told PTI.

GSTN has developed the app wherein exporters can save and upload their sales data which are part of GSTR-1 after filling up export details in table 6A. The table will be then extracted separately and after exporters digitally sign it, it would automatically go to the customs department. The customs department will then validate the information provided in the table with the shipping bill data and also the taxes paid in GSTR-3B. The refund amount would be either credited to exporter’s bank account through ECS or a cheque would be issued.

Also Read: Items In 28% GST Rate Slab Needs To Be Pruned, Says Hasmukh Adhia

As per data, 55.87 lakh GSTR-3B returns were filed for July, 51.37 lakh for August and over 42 lakh for September. Preliminary returns GSTR-3B for a month is filed on the 20th day of the next month after paying due taxes. Thereafter, final returns in form GSTR-1, 2, 3 are filed by businesses giving invoice wise details of sales.

The final return filing for August and September has not started yet. Over July-August, an estimated Rs67,000 crore has accumulated as IGST, of which only about Rs5,000-10,000 crore will be due as refunds to exporters. GST, the amalgamation of over a dozen indirect taxes like excise duty and value added tax (VAT), does not provide for any exemption, and so exporters are required to first pay IGST on manufactured goods and claim refunds after exporting them.

Also Read: GST rates need to be overhauled to reduce burden on small firms : Hasmukh Adhia

This had put severe liquidity crunch, particularly on aggregators or merchant exporters. To ease their problems, the GST Council earlier this month decided a package for them that includes extending the advance authorisation / export promotion capital goods (EPCG) / 100% export oriented unit (EOU) schemes to sourcing inputs from abroad as well as domestic suppliers till 31 March, thus not requiring to pay IGST.

The government is aiming to clear pending GST refunds of exporters by November-end. The first cheque after processing of July refunds was issued on 10 October.


XatTaX: India’s most trusted GST compliance software – 100% accurate GST filing

Source :  Livemint
Approximately eighty lakh taxpayers registered for GST: CEO, GST Network

Approximately eighty lakh taxpayers registered for GST: CEO, GST Network

GST Network CEO

The goods and services tax (GST) council is set to meet for the third time since the rollout of the new tax regime at this meeting which will take place in Hyderabad. The centre is expected to apprise the Council of the GST collections for the month of July. Sources say the council will also take stock of GST related concerns and demands of various sectors.

Ahead of the GST review meeting tomorrow, CNBC-TV18’s Timsy Jaipuria caught up with the CEO of GST Network, Prakash Kumar and asked him about the recent criticism that the system is facing.

Kumar said that it is easy to criticise but I have the figures to give you. There are no challenges from the system side, he added.

Major challenge is the last minute rush to file returns, he mentioned.

He further said that as of today, 25 percent of tax payers have filed for GSTR-1.

“In the month of July we had roughly 10 lakh new tax payers approved and in August another 10 lakh. It is 10 lakh per month in two months,” said Kumar.

Approximately 80 lakh taxpayers have registered for GST, he further mentioned.

Source :  Money Control
GSTN chief assures India Inc: All tax data will be completely secure under GST regime

GSTN chief assures India Inc: All tax data will be completely secure under GST regime

GSTN CEO Prakash Kumar

GST-Network – the firm which is building the IT backbone of the Goods and Services Tax regime — today assured stakeholders that all their data will be stored in an encrypted form and only the taxpayer and the assessing officer will have access to the information. Assuaging concerns of data theft, GSTN CEO Prakash Kumar said data will be stored with two-layers of security. Addressing a PHD Chamber event here, Kumar assured the industry that GSTN is applying the “best available security systems for data”.

“Security of your data is of prime importance because in invoice, the item cost is also included. We are cognisant of the fact that if your competitor comes to know of it, it will be a big set back for you. “So all the information which will come to us, it is always in encrypted mode and the best possible security systems we have provided from the perimeter to inside,” Kumar said.

He said the database administrator has been designed in a way that no outsider can see the data. “Only two people can have access — taxpayer himself or his tax officer who is responsible for that. So all role based taxes, others cannot see. “We are applying best available security systems for data, whether it is movement or in storage,” he said.

GSTN, Kumar said, will complete training of 60,000 central and state officers by mid-May to prepare them for the new IT backbone for GST. He added that 75.28 per cent of the existing VAT assessees have already migrated to the GSTN portal, while 31.5 per cent of service tax assessees have enroled so far.

As many as 56.5 lakh out of an estimated 80 lakh excise, service tax and VAT assessees have migrated to the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) portal so far. The portal is all geared up to handle about 300 crore invoices per month which will be generated under the GST regime.

GSTN has been set up primarily to provide IT infrastructure and services to central and state governments, taxpayers and other stakeholders for implementation of the GST. However, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has on multiple occasions raised concerns over GSTN’s shareholding pattern, and said it might compromise data security.

Source : Hindustan Times