NEW DELHI, June 18 India will launch a new
national Goods and Services Tax (GST) as planned on July 1,
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday, but will let
companies file late returns for the first two months so that
they can adapt to a new online filing system.
The GST, the biggest tax reform in India's 70-year history,
will require firms to file three online returns each month. Some
business lobby groups have urged a delay to the rollout to allow
more time to get ready.
Jaitley, speaking after a meeting of a GST coordination
panel, said there would be "a slight relaxation of time"
covering July and August before the strict GST filing timetable
would apply from September.
Companies would be able to file simplified, aggregate
returns in July and August, with a deadline of the 20th of the
following month, said Hasmukh Adhia, a finance ministry official
steering the launch of the tax.
Once fully up and running, the GST would require companies
to file a complete return of their sales invoices by the 10th of
the following month, with a second of their purchase invoices by
the 15th. A third return would calculate their tax bill.
"Relaxation for filing transaction-wise returns in July,
August ... will provide relief to the industry," said
Harishanker Subramaniam, head of indirect tax at EY India.
The GST marks a technological leap forward for India - it
will be driven by an IT back end that can process up to 5
billion invoices a month. It also poses a huge challenge for
larger companies to remodel their business process, while many
small-time traders lack the technological know-how to cope.
More than 6.5 million businesses have already signed up for
the GST, Jaitley said, more than four-fifths of those already
registered to pay India's old business taxes.
At Sunday's meeting, officials also agreed on several sets
of GST rules, including anti-profiteering guidelines intended to
prevent traders exploiting the reform to ramp up prices.
The GST Council will meet again on June 30, the eve of the
launch, Jaitley said.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine, editing by Louise Heavens)