GST effect: shaky Budget in offing?:

GST effect: shaky Budget in offing?:

Context

‘With no clear number for targeted GST collections, is the Centre raking in as much as it should?’

News

Revenue uncertainty due to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax could pose very real problems for the government when the time comes for it to prepare the Budget for financial year 2018-19, according to tax analysts and government officials alike

Reforms

The GST Council, in its latest meeting on November 10, announced several moves to ease the compliance burden on businesses, including

  • Deferring return filing deadlines for both small and large businesses
  • Allowing small businesses to file quarterly returns
  • Removing the need to file the GSTR-2 and GSTR-3 forms, and
  • Expanding the Composition Scheme to include more businesses

The Council also drastically reduced the tax rate on more than 200 goods, including most of the items in the highest 28% tax bracket

Uncertainty due to GST

In a normal year, businesses are well-versed with the tax processes, and so know their tax liability, so the collections are usually in line with what is anticipated. However, this year, the uncertainty surrounding GST procedures and the leeway the government has given in terms of extended deadlines has meant that the indirect tax collections for the particular period are still being updated

Impact:

  • Change in GDP figures: This means the GDP growth figure stands to change considerably in the next revision when the final GST collection data comes in
  • Estimate of Potential GST collections could go wrong: The bigger issue is the uncertainty could pose a problem for the government in estimating the potential GST collections for the entire 2018-19 financial year as it doesn’t have a trend to base its projections
  • Effect on budget: Now that we have advanced the Budget-making date to actually November — by the middle of November they must start the process, so that it’s complete by the middle of December — government will have only four months’ data of GST, and even that data will not be complete. This is a problem. Government doesn’t have complete data, it hasn’t verified  input tax credit claims, so we really doesn’t know what the net effect is going to be
  • Drastic rate reductions: Another issue is the Budget-making process will not be able to incorporate the recent and drastic rate reductions, since they came into effect on November 15. So, a full month’s data with the new rates will be available too late to incorporate in the Budget. The frequent changes in rates have made determination of ‘ideal’ revenue from GST even more difficult
  • The government will not have the benefit of using last year’s Budget Estimates of indirect tax revenue to gauge collections in the next year, either
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