GST return filings fall as registrations rise in August

The number of GST returns filed in August has been far lower compared to the previous month as technology glitches and government indecision on deadlines and penalties deterred taxpayers, although the tax base for GST has widened.

About 3.5 million of the 6.77 million registered tax payers who are required to pay GST have so far managed to file returns and pay taxes, which is a little over half the population.

Data available with GST Network, the agency managing the IT platform, showed that over 8.7 million businesses have so far migrated to GST. This includes nearly 2.5 million new tax payers apart from the 6.3 million who have earlier migrated from service tax, central excise and state VAT.

In contrast, in July, the first month of the GST roll-out, 3.6 million out of the 4.56 million eligible taxpayers paid GST, fetching the government over Rs92,000 crore – a near 79 per cent compliance.

The last date for filing GST returns for August was 20 September and a majority of the registered taxpayers could not comply due to various reasons, including technical glitches with the GSTN portal.

GSTN chairman Ajay Bhushan Pandey on Thursday, however, defended the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), saying it was a robust system and that the glitches were temporary in nature.

Pandey, who assumed charge earlier this month, said the GSTN is in a ''very sound state'' and the quantum of returns filed are a testimony to the system's strength.

He asserted that problems or glitches which exist in specific pockets will be dealt with expeditiously.

According to Pandey, GSTN accepted up to 85,000 returns per hour on Wednesday, the last day for GSTR-3B filing.

However, about 75 per cent of the registered businesses had not filed their returns until Wednesday.