The Central government on Tuesday, October 24, announced that it had waived the late fee for filing Goods and Services Tax (GST) returns for August and September.
However, people filing these returns may still have to pay the fee, given the nature of the government announcement.
The new GST regime — which came into effect on July 1 this year and was expected to simplify the structure of taxes paid by individuals and organisations in India — has caused quite a bit of a headache for the Central government.
The regime currently has five tax slabs as opposed to the single one promised by its "One Nation One Tax" tag, and even Union revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia has admitted that the GST rate structure needs a major rejig.
This was even after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government made some significant changes to the GST rates of some goods earlier this month.
Add to that the problems many traders have been facing while trying to file GST returns, and it came as no surprise when the number of GST returns being filed saw a significant drop.
It is possibly to bridge this gap that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the waiving of late fees for filing of GST returns.
He wrote on Twitter: "To facilitate taxpayers, late fee on filing of GSTR-3B for Aug&Sept has been waived. Late fee paid will be credited back to taxpayer ledger. [sic]"
To facilitate taxpayers, late fee on filing of GSTR-3B for Aug&Sept has been waived. Late fee paid will be credited back to taxpayer ledger.— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) October 24, 2017
It is the last part of his tweet that holds significance. It explains that people filing GST returns through the GSTR-3B will have to pay their late fees, which will subsequently be credited back to them.
An official release from the Finance Ministry explained: "Electronic cash ledger of the taxpayers who have already paid the late fee on filing of GSTR-3B either for the month of August or September, 2017 or those who pay such fee before the necessary changes are carried out in the IT system will be credited with the amount of late fee so paid be them. The enabling notifications are being issued shortly."
The announcement came the same day as the Finance Ministry announced that the total GST paid up to October 23 for September was Rs 92,150 crore.
Giving a breakdown of this collection, it said that the total Central GST revenue was Rs 14,042 crore, the total state GST was Rs 21,172 crore, while IGST collected was Rs 48,948 crore.
Compensation Cess is Rs 7,988 crore (of which Rs 722 crore is Compensation Cess from imports in September 2017): Ministry of Finance— ANI (@ANI) October 24, 2017