Compulsory Payment of tax before filing of GSTR-3B-Inconsistent working of GST portal
Section 146 of the CGST Act, 2017 provides that the Government may notify the common elecronic portal for facilitating the registration, payment of taxes, furnishing of returns and carrying out other purposes under the said Act. In exercise of the powers u/s 146 common e-portal (gst.gov.in) and eway bill portal have been notified and are in operation. It is pertinent to mention here that the said e-portals are for facilitating the law laid down under the GST laws and such e-portals cannot override the provisions of law.
In the light of the above legal position, it has been brought to the notice of the constitutional courts at many times after the implementation of the GST, that such e-portals are not working in accordance with the law.
The latest one of such instances is brought to the notice of Gujarat High Court by way of writ petition in the case of OCTAGON COMMUNICATIONS PVT LTD Versus UNION OF INDIA. In this case it was brought to the notice of the court that there is no condition under the GST laws for making payment of tax as a pre-condition for filing return of Form GSTR-3B. It was submitted that in the absence of any such provision, the on- line system of the respondents which does not allow filing of returns without payment of tax liability admitted as per such returns is contrary to legal provisions as a result of which the petitioner is not able to file return in Form GSTR-3B by 20th April, 2019 and he would be deprived of his input tax credit. The court as an interim relief allowed petitioner to file GSTR-3B manually.
Relevant Part of interim order in the case of Octagon Communications Pvt Ltd Vs Union of India (Gujarat High Court) is reproduced herebelow
“1. Despite service of notice, there is no appearance on behalf of the respondents No.2 and 3.
2. Mr. Uchit Sheth, learned advocate for the petitioner has submitted that there is no condition for making payment of tax as a pre-condition for filing return of Form GSTR-3B. It was submitted that in the absence of any such provision, the on- line system of the respondents which does not allow filing of returns without payment of tax liability admitted as per such returns is contrary to legal provisions. It was further submitted that if the petitioner is not able to file return in Form GSTR-3B by 20th April, 2019 the petitioner would be deprived of input tax credit.
3. Having regard to the urgency of the matter and the fact that there is no response from the respondents No.2 and 3, by way of ad-interim relief, the petitioner is permitted to file manual returns in Form GSTR-3B for the months November, 2017 onwards, which would be subject to final outcome of the petition. Stand over to 13th June, 2019. ”
The above is a perfect example how the e-portals notified for facilitating the implementation of law are working in a manner contrary to the provisions of law. To further elaborate the above instance, it is pertinent to note down that section 39(7) of the CGST Act provides that the due date of payment of tax would be the last date of furnishing of return i.e. last date of filing GSTR-3B in the present situtation.
Thus for an example the last date for payment of tax for the month of April, 2019 would be on 20th May, 2019, but if a person choses to file his GSTR-3B on 15th on May, 2019, the e-portal would not allow to file GSTR-3B unless tax is paid on 15th May itself, which is clearly contrary to the provisions of section 39(7).
Another important thing to be noted here is that one of the conditions for claiming input tax credit u/s 16 is that a person must have filed his returns, so meaning thereby unless a person files his GSTR-3B he will not be eligible for his input tax credit. The implications of the above working of e-portal inconsistent with the provisions of section 39(7) would be that even if a person has ITC to pay off the output tax partially, he would not be able to do so, which would result in payment of interest on the gross output tax liability as per section 50.
For example if a person has output tax liability of Rs. 10000 and he has ITC of Rs. 9800 in the same month, the e-portal would not allow it to file GSTR-3B unless he pays Rs. 200 before filing GSTR-3B and thereby it would result in payment of interest on Rs. 10000 instead of Rs. 200, which could not have been the case, had the e-portal been working in accordance with section 39(7) of the CGST Act.
To conclude although only an interim order is passed in the above noted case by the Hon’ble Gujarat HC, but it is an eye opener for the Government to make sure the implementation of the e-portals in accordance with the provisions of the law.