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Small businesses need more time for GST compliances: survey

89% of small businesses have demanded that the government waive the penalty on late payments and defer GST return filings for the March to May period till June 30, the survey points out

The compliance relaxations offered by the government under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime are inadequate, according to a survey of small and medium businesses affected by the lockdown and mobility restrictions in most States.

89% of small businesses have demanded that the government waive the penalty on late payments and defer GST return filings for the March to May period till June 30, as per a survey conducted over the past week by LocalCircles of 2,456 such enterprises located in 122 districts.

On May 1, the government had notified some relief measures for businesses to cope with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing delayed filing of some returns, waiving penalties for 15-30 days and reducing the interest on delayed tax payments in a graded manner.

While returns related to computing input tax credits were granted 15 more days, the due date for filing the GSTR-3B and remitting taxes was not extended. The interest levied on delayed tax payments was not waived, prompting accountants to advise firms to comply without waiting for the input tax credits to firm up.

“Small businesses from across the country have been raising the issue of their inability to meet the GST payment deadline as most have been shut due to local lockdowns and curfew restrictions. A visit by the accountant or a visit to them is not an option for most businesses since early April and hence the majority are unable to make their GST payment. Similarly, most have been unable to file the return for quarter ending March 31,” LocalCircles said in a note on the rationale for the survey conducted over the past fortnight.

“Overall, 73% small businesses want no penalty and interest on March GST payment and return filing till June 30, while 78% want no penalty and interest on April and May GST payments till June 30. Overall, 89% small businesses want no penalty and interest relaxations on GST late payments and return filing till June 30,” as per the survey conducted by the community platform.

The platform had escalated the need for relaxation of the March 21 GST payment and return to the Finance Ministry on April 23, but the relaxations granted by the Ministry on May 1 were not enough, the survey noted.

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