The High court of Kerala permitted the petitioner to discharge the tax liability, inclusive of any interest and late fee thereon, in equal successive monthly installments.
Please note Section 80 of the CGST Act, 2017 allows payment of tax due (other than the due self-assessed in any return) in monthly installments not exceeding 24 months. GSTR -1 is not a return. In case of temporary financial distress in the erstwhile Central Excise regime Circular No. 996/3/2015-CX, dated 28-2-2015 provided for payment of the tax dues in installments.
FULL TEXT OF THE HIGH COURT ORDER /JUDGEMENT
The petitioner is a private limited company engaged in the business of automobile sales. In the writ petition, it is the case of the petitioner that though the Company filed GSTR-1 returns for the months of February, 2020 to May, 2020, due to Covid pandemic, could not generate funds to make lump sum payment of the admitted tax. The Company, however, intends to pay the arrears of tax due without contesting the same. But, the respondent has expressed his inability to permit the petitioner to pay the arrears of tax in instalments. The petitioner reiterates that on account of the present Covid pandemic situation, the petitioner is not in a position to generate the funds necessary for making a lump sum payment of the admitted tax for the said period, and it is therefore that the petitioner seeks a direction from this Court to permit the petitioner to file the returns without paying the entire admitted tax, but ensuring that the payment of admitted tax, together with interest thereon and applicable late fees etc., will be made in quick instalments.
2. The learned Standing Counsel for the respondent would point out that the provisions of the Act do not provide for the payment of the admitted amount shown in the return in instalments, and hence the relief sought for by the petitioner cannot be granted in view of the express provisions of the statute.
3. I have heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and the learned Standing counsel for the respondent.
4. On a consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case and the submissions made across the Bar, I note that the petitioner, who is an assessee under the GST Act, is not disputing its liability to tax, or the quantum thereof, for the period in question. It only seeks an instalment facility to pay the admitted tax, together with interest thereon, in view of the financial difficulties faced by it during the Covid pandemic situation, when its business has come to a total standstill.
5. This Court in W.P.(C) No. 14275/2020, in similar circumstances, directed the respondent tax authority to accept the belated returns and permitted the petitioner therein to discharge the balance tax liability in equal monthly instalments.
6. Under the circumstances, since the petitioner is not disputing its liability, and wishes to put a quietus to the matter, I deem it appropriate to direct the respondent to accept the belated return filed by the petitioner for the period from February, 2020 to April, 2020, without insisting on payment of the admitted tax declared therein. The petitioner shall be permitted to discharge the tax liability, inclusive of any interest and late fee thereon, in equal successive monthly instalments commencing from 15th November, 2020 and culminating on 15th August, 2021. It is made clear that if the petitioner defaults in any single instalment, the petitioner will lose the benefit of this judgment and it will be open to the respondent to proceed with recovery proceedings for realisation of the unpaid tax, interest and other amounts, in accordance with law.
The Writ Petition is disposed as above.