One of the boldest steps that has happened in India recently is the reform in Indirect Tax in the form of GST. It had radically and progressively changed the entire taxation scenario in India. GST is a merger of all indirect taxes we had before the appointed date of 01st July 2023 like Excise Duties, Service Taxes, Sales Tax, CST., etc.,  Even at the time of lockdown GST compliances and filing was mandatory, which were done even during the hour of crisis. Every corporation was required to comply with GST whether they are a Technological giant or infrastructure titan. No matter what their size is, every single business is required to comply with GST obligations. This brings in a huge opportunity for the people having the knowledge of GST.  Yes….! GST is the buzzword.  Let us have a look at what opportunities it has brought in this niche.

A. Taxation Manager

2. Almost every medium-level company requires a person to take care of its taxation and related Compliance matters. It can be a Senior position also depending on the size of the company. For example, a large corporation will have separate managers for direct and indirect tax. Also, the manager will have a team to do the compliances and a consultant to take care of complex issues. While the assessment of Tax Liabilities are codified in the GST Laws, the responsibility to arrive at the Tax liability is on the Taxpayer himself (Self-Assessment).  The department does not interfere in the assessment responsibilities (barring certain exceptions) of the registered tax person, but undertakes Scrutiny, Audit and Investigation which generally triggers a lot of disputes to be resolved with pre-consultation or with legal remedies.  In case of receipt of show cause notices from the department and for other legal matters, a person with good representation skills is also required to bail the company out of the muddle. This person should have a sound knowledge and also be capable of putting his point through as defence to convince the adjudicating authority.  This makes it one of the most suitable career opportunities in GST for someone with certain amount of expertise and becomes very rewarding too.  The most important skills required on this is a good knowledge on the latest changes in the GST laws, good drafting skills and good interpretation skills. Considering the dynamicity of the GST Laws, its is quite a challenge to keep pace with the rapidity of changes.   Taxation Manager is a good option.

B. Taxation Research Analyst

3. A Tax Policy Research Analyst is a professional who responsible for planning and coordinating research initiatives to review, reform and revise tax administration practices, policies and programs in a company periodically. A Tax Policy Analyst should be a complete financial professional responsible for researching and developing taxation policies and legislation. He improves and develops tax strategies relating to his Enterprise. A Tax Policy Analyst advises his organisation on the implementation of Tax guidelines and financial operations. He is also responsible for forecasting the financial influence of changes in tax structures, Compliances with other policy matters and participates in coalitions of key stakeholders in the organisation who are responsible for implementation and execution. He provides professional assistance in documentation of policy and advocacy efforts in concerning Tax areas and advises as required.  This profile is very much required compulsorily for large business corporations. They have complex structures and multifarious transactions. Illustratively, infrastructure company presumably signs new contracts with multiple clients, frequently. They need a person to look at the contract from a taxation point of view, because incorrect signing may turn a profitable contract into a loss-making one. Thus, they employ a permanent taxation analyst to advise them. Every new contract and transactions are vetted from the taxation point of view by a Tax Policy research Analyst so that all cases of potential liability, are included in the contract. Obviously, a Tax Policy research Analyst requires a thorough knowledge of all provisions of GST laws that exists currently and that which existed at the material time, Industry based analysis, Sectoral trends & changes with  ability for Practical implementation. A competent person on these areas can have a rewarding career as a Tax Policy research Analyst.

C. Reconciliations

4. In GST reconciliation is an important process that helps to ensure the accuracy and consistency of data between a taxpayer’s books of accounts and the GST returns filed. Here are some important points to keep in mind while performing GST reconciliation:

i. Timeliness: Performing GST reconciliation on a regular basis, ideally monthly, to identify and rectify any discrepancies in a timely manner helps avoid accumulation of errors and facilitates accurate reporting.

ii. Data Accuracy: By ensuring accuracy of the data entered in your books of accounts and GST returns mistakes in invoices, input tax credit (ITC) claims, tax rates, and other details discrepancies and mismatches can be circumvented.

iii. Documentation: Maintaining proper documentation of invoices, debit/credit notes, and other relevant documents to support the transactions reflected in the books and GST returns will be essential during the reconciliation process.

iv. Communication: Establishment of effective communication channels with vendors, customers, and other stakeholders to resolve any discrepancies and clarify any mismatches in data will help in completing the compliance commitments impeccably.

v. Technology and Automation: Effective use of accounting and reconciliation software tools can automate the reconciliation process, helping to streamline and simplify the task.

vi. Verify ITC: The Input Tax Credit (ITC) claimed in its books with the ITC available in its GST return must be checked for every Tax period. It ensures that the claimed ITC is supported by valid invoices/documents and complies with GST laws. During the reconciliation process, if one realizes that it has mistakenly claimed ITC on document with an incorrect GSTIN or discrepancies of like nature, it must be rectified immediately by reversing the ITC claimed and amending its GST return accordingly, else end up with payment of interest and penalties.

vii. Prepare Reconciliation Statement: A tax professional is expected to maintain proper documentation of the reconciled transactions, adjustments made and any correspondence with suppliers or tax authorities. This documentation serves as evidence of its reconciliation efforts and can be used during GST audits, if required.

Career Opportunities in GST

These systematic efforts can ensure the accuracy and consistency of their GST data, comply with GST laws, and minimize the risk of errors or penalties. It is crucial to consult with tax professionals or experts to ensure compliance with specific requirements and regulations applicable to one’s  business. This is a mammoth exercise and every Large incorporations need a dedicated team with a lead person who can reconcile the sales, purchase, and input tax credit. Any wrong feeding into GST return can have disastrous consequences and financial implications as well. The most important reconciliations to be done on monthly basis that are normally expected and required by any taxpayer in GST are:

  • Sales entered in books with sales entered in GSTR 1 and GSTR 3b.
  • Tax paid on sales declared.
  • Input tax credit with the purchases
  • Input tax credit with GSTR 2b, 2a
  • Input tax credit with the bills and goods received.

The Department issues Portal based advisories from time to time to facilitate this process.  Any person with sound GST knowledge combined with MS-Excel skills, basic knowledge on the Accounting Software / ERP and familiarity with GST portal can be of utmost use in providing professional assistance.  To perform this work one need not be an employee but can be a freelancer who will undertake this work from time-to-time ensuring filing of the Tax returns periodically.  This will be rewarding even with work from home as all the compliance under GST are online and that no physical filing is available.

D. GST Compliance Practice

5. A small business like MSME / SSI Units perceptibly can’t afford to have a dedicated person for all their GST compliances. They would rather prefer to outsource this job for their legislative obligations to compliance professionals. Even some large businesses also outsource their compliances as they don’t want to maintain a large team with prohibitive costs. Professionals with the significant knowledge of GST acquiescence can do the compliance practice. In this case, they don’t need to work under anyone. They can work independently. All they require is skills towards the essential compliances, Software handling for bulk filing, staff management with a small team, and promotion abilities to market their skills. With a steady client base one can expect regular income.

E. GST Consultancy Practice

6. It is quite a common phenomenon that not every business entity is conversant with all the legal process. Knowingly or unknowingly, they require proper advises from time to time.  Corporates need a consultant for various transactions that might end up in litigations. It is hard to implement and interpret the law in a practical situation as the law is always general and not envisaged to cover unique situations. Deep knowledge of not only the GST law but also of other relevant allied laws are required to untie such lawsuits. Legal precedents and case laws may be required to defend oneself.  These precedents should facilitate and be relevant in relevant in decision-making. Therefore, ole of GST Consultants are quite important.  It requires a lot of Analytical skills, Knowledge on GST law, GST litigation trends to provide successful consultancy.

F. GST Legal practice

7. As part of Compliance verification process (03) three mechanisms are prescribed by the GST Laws. The Scrutiny, Audit & Investigation.  Consequent upon such processes, it is normal to get Show Cause notices. GST being in its infancy stage and still evolving, it will take time to settle. The language of law breaks into multiple interpretations which can be on merit or Mischievous too sometimes. This results in litigation between the taxpayer and the department. In this scenario, the role of a litigation professional is very important. They need to protect the interest of taxpayers within the limits of the law as well as uphold the spirit of the regulations with its true objective. Hence a legal advisor is absolutely essential to guide the Taxpayers and ensure Natural Justice to everyone.  To succeed in this objective, a professional approach with strong representation skills, drafting skills and knowledge of litigation trends are essential. This makes GST legal practice lucrative and infuses professional esteem.

G. GST Department

8. The GST department also needs trained personel. The Taxation department has a huge responsibility of collecting correct amount of taxes. They also need to handle the litigation arising from the interpretational disparities. Consequently, they also engage Eminent Faculty with profound knowledge of the law to impart and disseminate this expertise to their officers. Further, GST is included in the syllabus of most universities in Law, Commerce and Management streams. Many professionals also get GST training to get leverage in their careers. GST qualified professionals can embark in training and teaching. This opens a new area to try one’s competence. This effort not only leads to sharing of intellectual comprehension but also professional satisfaction.

H. GST Practitioner

9. GST law allows a person as GST practitioner to perform certain functions for the taxpayers. One needs to qualify through an exam conducted by the Central Department’s training Academy called NACIN . The major responsibilities of all GST practitioners include filing of GST returns on behalf of their client through the GST portal. They must complete tasks like securing and affixing their client’s digital signature and verification of credentials. They must ensure that their registered taxpayer/client receives confirmation of the GST returns via email and SMS. In case they fail to respond to the confirmation request, till the last date, the returns filed by the GST practitioner are admitted as final as if filed by the Taxpayer himself. In summary, a goods and services tax practitioner is required to fulfil the following set of duties and responsibilities based on the needs of the taxpayer:

  • File tax returns such as GSTR 3B, GSTR 1, ITC 04, and CMP 08 complete with details of supplies, both outward and inward;
  • File GST returns on monthly, quarterly, annual or final basis;
  • At the instruction of the taxpayer, cancel, amend and revoke their GST registration;
  • Look into their liability, cash and other electronic ledgers;
  • Create tax challans and deposit the amount taxable;
  • Produce DRC-03, LUT and advance ruling applications;
  • Give representation on behalf of the taxpayer;
  • Request participation or exemption from composition levy;
  • Fill out and submit RFD 11 form for claiming the refund;
  • Keeping up with GST notices;

GST practitioners must bear in mind that if the taxpayer deems their services to be unsatisfactory, they can withdraw the practitioner’s authorisation via the GST portal.

Before bidding adieu………

10. In case you want to crack any one of the opportunities in GST, you need to possess the following skills.

  • Knowledge of all important sections and their interpretation is essential.
  • Analytical skills are required to handle practical issues. Every business is different. You can’t use the same formula everywhere. Your analytical skills will help you to translate the law into practical situations.
  • Familiarity and GSTN Portal Knowledge is very important. GSTN portal is notified for GST compliances. Even after having a good knowledge of the law, it is a must to know about the GSTN portal. All compliances are done via portal only. GST return filing, GST registration, GST refund filing, and even appeal in GST are done via the GSTN portal.
  • There are a lot of reconciliation mandated to be done under GST laws and it of paramount importance.
  • Basic understanding of the tools available in MS-Excel and MS-Word will make return filing very easy and accurate.
  • The Industry knowledge and sectoral requirements are must to provide seamless GST related services to the Taxpayer clients.

Let us candidly admit that roll out of GST in India has opened floodgates of opportunities for the young professionals who want to take Taxation as a career. Being a new law anyone can learn it easily with little proper training and guidance. It is always better to learn practical subjects from the niche experts as only theoretical knowledge won’t serve the purpose. Corporates need a person who can take responsibility right from day one. No one wants to spend time / money and other resources on training of employees. All in all, taking GST as a career profession will yield rich dividends as there is a lot of demand for Knowledgeable and capable Tax professionals.

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  1. A.T.SRIDHARAN says:

    The article is very timely and completely lists out the career opportunities in various sections within GST compliance process. GST had come to stay and both the industries and public accepted the huge transformation. As the saying goes Prevention is better than cure, better to employ a proper full fledged team in taxation department within the business entity according to their size and needs to keep the Artificial Intelligence away with a real intelligent way of making up the team with the various suggestions by the Learned Author.

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September 2023