The government on 22nd December, 2018, in its GST Council meeting, released a yet another notification that might end up in people scratching their heads. According to the Notification No. 76/2018-Central Tax dated 31st December, 2018, the finance ministry has waived off the late fees for the GST registered taxpayers’ inability to file GSTR1, GSTR3B, GSTR4 for the period of July 2017 to September 2018 but gave a rider that they must furnish their returns from the period December 22, 2018 to March 2019.
On the face of it, this decision taken up by the GST council seems to be a big breather for all those who would have fetched a big amount of Rs.25 per day as late fees but were saved by this untimely notification. To some extent, I advocate for this notification as being essential in its nature because there would have been quite a amount of people who could not have come at par to this novel procedure. Moreover, the government can be applauded as it aptly uses reverse psychology and earns some brownie points for it being a populist measure. Whatever the objective be, this has definitely come as a big relief for the ones who would currently be standing in the long queues to pay the exchequer.
But that is just the rosy side. It has to have thorns. And this time those thorns pinch the honest and timely filers of the GSTR. Suppose, a person paid his late fees for the GSTR of July 2017 to September 2018 on 20th December which, say, amounts to Rs.25000. Now, I wish that person would have waited for two more days and he could have availed the benefit of 22nd December notification as well. This is the rudimentary problem with this notification i.e. its untimeliness and unfairness. The notification is unfair in the sense that it brings disappointment to the ones who cared to pay the late fees amount and those who did not would be waived off, even though they lay in the same situation.
This notification, according to me, should have been a retrospective one. That is, all those who paid the late fees amount should have been given reimbursement otherwise it would be totally unfair and unjust on the Council’s part. As is said, equals should be treated equally.
(Author Eukti Garg is 2nd Year Law Student of Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala and is Daughter of CA Satish Garg based at Faridabad)