GST: Wait till February 1, 2017?
Ranjeet Mahtani and Stella Joseph
On the sidelines of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has reiterated the intent to roll out GST by April 1, 2017, while acknowledging that it will be a difficult goal to achieve, and this being subject to sorting out of pending (thorny) issues at the level of GST Council (GSTC). The Finance Minister is charged up with the handsome growth in Central Excise and Service Tax collections (customs duty revenue showed marginal growth) for the fiscal of 2016-17.
There has been some delay in enrolment procedure of taxpayers on to the GST Network (GSTN); the schedule for migration has been revised and it is noteworthy that for existing service tax assesses, there has been postponement from January 9, 2017 to January 14, 2017, due to technical reasons.
There has been encouraging response to the enrolment process, with assesses coming forth for registration (migration). At the same time, some concerns have been raised including whether the migration process is legally valid in the absence of any law or enabling provisions. Interestingly, some State’s VAT/Commercial Taxes Department have been displaying messages on its websites, stating that failure to register on the GSTN immediately would result in blocking their access to the VAT portals - such actions have caused anxiety amongst taxpayers but, also raised questions on propriety.
Service tax rate
Recent reports suggest that the Centre may (while announcing its Budget proposals) increase the service tax rate in its build up to GST. This will bring the service tax rate closer to the proposed standard rate for services under GST, viz. 18% or, 12 % in some cases.