CA Ajay Sharma
Interview of GST expert ‘CA Sudhir Halakhadi’ by ‘CA Ajay Sharma’
Today I have with me GST Personality, Professional, author and writer SUDHIR HALAKHANDI. Sudhir Halakhandi has More 500 Taxation articles to his credit and a very popular GST writer in Hindi.
He is credited with First authentic Article on GST in India. Goods and Service Tax – An Introductory Study 2007 ICAI CA Journal and which is now part of various research papers, used as reference reading in syllabus of various universities including one prestigious Law university. It was also part of GST Literature prepared by Lok sabha Secretariat for Member of Parliament as reference article.
Sudhir Halakhandi has used all the platforms of social media to educate the taxpayers about the new concept of Indirect taxation in India- Goods and Service Tax. He is very active on twitter and his unique style of using whatsApp as Tax education Platform is commendable.
He is Multidimensional Personality – Professional, Cartoonist, Writer, Interviewer, Motivator etc… WhatsApp Interviews of GST personalities is also his New innovation but today I am taking his interview.
Let us have a talk with SUDHIR HALAKHANDI.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Hello! Friends. You are most welcome to our show KNOW YOUR GST PERSONALITY .Today We have with us a renowned GST Personality Mr. Sudhir Halakhandi. Good Evening Sudhir Sir!
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Good Evening Ajay.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Now first of all Corona Lockdown. How you are passing your time these days since you are very much busy with all your activities and now you have to keep yourself in your House.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: See, Ajay we have to maintain the social distance these days so there is no alternate and further if we have to keep ourselves healthy and safe we have to follow the Lockdown as prescribed by our Government. It is our duty.
First three days I took full rest since last 30 years I am working on a same routine but I felt some problem for 4th day. For me day 4 was a disaster. So on 5th Day I made a program to make me busy and started study and writing again. Now it’s OK and there is no problem.
The interviews with renowned GST personalities in our country are also part of it and a new experience for me. It also gave me an opportunity to know theses personalities personally.
Recently I have started writing a mystery thriller “33 Saal Purana Admi” on my Face book page which is a daily series.
CA AJAY SHARMA: So mystery writer Sudhir Halakhandi!
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Let’s See how long I can continue it.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Mr. Sudhir you are a renowned GST writer. How your writing was started. Are you writing only on Indirect Taxes?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: I am writing on taxation matters since 2000. I wrote for ICAI CA Journal for first time in 2003. I have written more than 500 articles for various publishers and tax websites. Besides GST, my writing was on VAT, Service Tax and Income Tax also.
As far as I remember at initial stages my major writing was based on Direct Taxes. I contributed for years on Indian Budget for some of the Leading Tax Publishers. So it was not Indirect Taxes only. In ICAI CA Journal I wrote 5 Articles till date. One on Central Sales Tax, One on Income Tax (TDS), Two on Service Tax and one on GST. So it was a mix bag.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Then How Goods and Service tax become part of Witting? When this was started?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Since 2006 I started studying GST though at that time not much of literature was available.
My first GST article was published in ICAI CA Journal in 2007. Goods and Service Tax- An Introductory study. It was April 2007 issue of the Journal. After that writing on GST and studying GST is a continuing process till date.
Whenever I mark 2007 with me in my GST reference people send me message or mail to make a correction- “No 2007 it should be 2017” since GST was introduced in 2017. But what can I do?
For me really it was 2007.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Now Mr. Sudhir Halakhandi! You are very popular writer on GST in Hindi belt. You have a very popular Hindi Book to your credit. How this Hindi connection as a Tax writer was started for you?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: I started writing in Hindi in 2016 and at the initial stage of 2017 my writing in Hindi got the recognition from Tax payers/businessmen in Hindi belt so I continue writing on GST in Hindi on regular basis along with my regular Articles. The number of readers in Hindi is much bigger especially in case of Goods and Service Tax which was relatively a new concept.
Further writing on a Taxation matters in Hindi language was not very popular then so it was a new adventure and the response was very good , The contributors were only a few at that time.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Yes Sir, The taxation literature in Hindi is very Limited….You have done a very good job in this respect. It was your writing in Hindi on GST which made a very good impact on Tax payers learning process. They started reading the Tax Literature which was a new phenomenon in our country.
Good Job done by you sir for Trade and Industry…
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Thanks Ajay. The Trade and Industry also recognised my work in this respect. Further this literature was very easily available to them through Social Media. The delivery system in this respect is very fast due to various platforms of Social Media.
In 2016-17 itself they called me to address their “Vyparik Sammelan”- A big dealer meet at Talkatora Stadium New Delhi where erstwhile Hon. Home Minister of the country was chief guest.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Yes Sir, You used all the platforms of Social Media very well in this respect and still using the same… WhatsApp, Twitter, Face Book, Telegram, YouTube.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Thanks, You recognised my efforts .I am obliged. Thanks.
AJAY SHARMA:- What is the Idea behind these Lockdown GST Interviews. How you got this skill of taking professional Interviews without meeting the personality at any time . Today I experience How difficult task it is though I know you personally since years.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: These GST personalities have done very great job in spreading the knowledge of GST. They and others, who are not covered in these interviews but doing the same, have their own share of contribution in implementation of GST in India. Their efforts should be appreciated and we should know about them and also how they are working. I know they all are doing very hard work. That’s why I have started their interview in Lockdown period. It is very easy to interact with them in this period because everybody has spare time. So it was a purposeful utilization of time also. In the today’s IT era there is no need of personal meeting while interacting.
How I develop the skill of taking interview….. It is an old story. Once I was engaged for taking interviews of Hon. ICAI presidents for a Leading taxation Publisher from New Delhi for whom I was a regular writer.
It was their premium Magazine and you can equate its cover page with “Star and Style” or “Stardust” Magazine. We have full page photograph of the ICAI president on the color glossy page.
The program was there for as far as I remember three to four years. Some of the Interviews were also uploaded on ICAI site and I think one or two interviews are still available on ICAI site. One president has given me two interviews and the second one was farewell interview. Even one other president given me simultaneously two interviews one for My Magazine and other one in the same week for a professional site.
These were very interesting interviews and year were 2009 to 2011 as far as I remember. Then I lost my interest in Professional writing for any publisher so the activity was stopped there. I think nobody tried it after that.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Now one question on personal front. Mr. Sudhir are you from a Professional family. You family has any connection with this profession?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: No I am first one in this profession in my family, though my elder son is also in the same profession and younger one is also doing the same course so after some time we will be a Family of professionals.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sudhir Sir, You have told us that you have written your first article on GST 2006-07. How you got the material. I mean to say your source at that time. What is your feeling when it is said that you are the writer who wrote first article in India on GST.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: First time in 2006 in annual budget there was a reference of GST in 4 to 5 Lines in the Budget speech of the erstwhile Finance Minister. It was only a hint that we will be heading for Goods and Service Tax in coming years.
So I started studying on Internet about Goods and Service Tax. That was the basic and standard format of GST which was a single and centralized tax and it was not possible to introduce the same in our country due to our Federal Structure of Governance where both states and central have the power to impose tax.
Further in my opinion GST is further extension of VAT so study of VAT was also the base of my study of GST. In 2006 when VAT was introduced I covered more than 6 states in my writing to explain their respective VAT Acts for a Delhi Publisher. I think now they have closed their publication business.
As far as First article on GST is concerned – Goods and Service Tax- and Introductory study. It was written in 2006-07 and was published in ICAI CA Journal in April 2007. My friends and followers consider it as First Article on GST in India but there is nothing official about it. This article got so much recognition because the platform where it was published was very big and prestigious. All credit goes to the Platform on which it was published.
For me it is still a routine article.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Mr. Sudhir which is your favourite Article. I guess Goods and Service Tax- An Introductory Study. Am I correct?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: you ask me about my favorite article with your own answer…….. Let me reply… No not that was. It may be a popular article, got a chance to be referred in the GST material prepared by Lok sabha Secretariat for Member of Parliament. It has also found place in syllabus of various universities as reference reading and also it is part of various research papers. But you know sir; every writer has a right to choose his favorite article.
My favorite article was “Income Tax Law in Pakistan – Interesting similarities with us”. It was published years back in a Leading National Tax Journal from Jodhpur (Rajasthan) more than 15 years ago.
A very wide research was done by me in this respect. I was inspired to write this when I saw on internet that there is a concept of HUF there also for Hindu families residing there. It was a very old story in my memory though I don’t even have copy of the same now.
I have written lot of articles which were, in my opinion or liking better than this particular GST article but sometimes something get clicked due to its unique character and platform. Once I wrote “Service Tax for Small service providers – Myths and Realities” again in ICAI CA Journal which also is one of my favorite articles.
“Taxability of Gifts in India – What the Law should be” it was written for a leading National Tax Publisher was also a good article. I have written 500 articles so lots of them were good and noticed.
Even my Hindi E-Book, which is also a reference book for various universities, is nothing but compilation of my GST articles in Hindi.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sudhir Sir, what was the biggest moment of your Life? When a prime time TV program on your Book on GST on the eve of introduction of GST in India. In my memory you are the only CA in recent years whose Taxation Literature is highlighted in a Prime Time of a TV program?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Ajay, You are just asking me about me………. Please take up something about GST.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sir, we are Learning GST from you since several years especially in Hindi belt so we are more interested in your journey of GST…. I will certainly come to GST in second Part…..Please wait.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Ok let me Reply and again I will disappoint you Brother…….My biggest moment of life was when official twitter handle of GOI on GST followed me. It was initial stage of GST and they started replying the queries from Public and on one particular day three continuous questions were replied by them to which I was not satisfied and I modified all the three answers in my reply to this twitter handle and after sometime I noticed that they are following me!!
The other personalities followed by this twitter handle were only 6 including Hon. PM, (Two Accounts one with PMO) Hon. FM, Revenue secretary, Ministry of Finance, CBIC and GST Council and I were the 7th!!
It was a great feeling but my game was over I think within 36 or less hours but I have already taken the screen shot to make it memorable for me and my Friends and followers. It is still preserved by me on the my electronic devices.
It may be a case that I was followed by mistake or maybe it was due to protocol problem I was unfollowed or it may be only my dream but it made my day.
Everybody has right to live in his imaginary world and I am not an exception.
CA AJAY SHARMA: But let me tell you sir Loss was not yours……..
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Take it easy…… I got lot of such chances in my life. I am a lucky Left hander…..
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sudhir Sir, Do you have any suggestions for Young professionals who want to start writing like you. Further give some tips on time management. How to handle so many thing simultaneously. Please Sir Something about your time management.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: A very Good question Ajay. Let me reply…….. Read More and More. You will automatically start writing. Read anything – Tax Law, Tax Articles, FAQs, and whatever available. Read stories, Novels, Biographies, Fictions, Magazines, Journals, and News Papers even Comics- Chacha Chaudhary, Billu….. In My case the writing is nothing but overflow of Reading. The reading will certainly help you to develop your writing skills. Even in Lockdown period I have completed reading of 25 Books. All were read by me second time since new one are not available. There should be a thrust of reading in everybody.
On Taxation matters, choose a subject and start writing after reading it properly. Write directly on your computer and check it and send it to your friends. No draft is prepared by me at any time in my writting.
Please Don’t hesitate if you have any mistakes. I am still doing a lot. People are there to point out and that will certainly enhance your writing skills and then one day you will become a good writer like me. Me means writer with silly mistakes……. But still writing.
As far as my Time management is concerned, I am doing nothing great so there is no problem of Time Management. Sometimes I have another problem How to pass time!! I have 10 to 7 office hours and during this period, barring some exception I don’t do any writing. I am living in small town so office and Home distance can be covered in three Minutes. My day starts from 5AM and end at 10 PM. I have very little or you can say Zero outside travelling so have plenty of time at my disposal.
In my opinion Time management is a myth and you can use this word in motivational speeches only. Between you and time, it is always time which is managing you. It is a fact so I am not an exception.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sudhir Sir, GST was introduced in 2017 in our country. Now 30 months have already passed. What is your opinion about introduction of GST and further its journey?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: The GST was a very big tax reform in the country and if we think that law makers should have waited more for preparation of GST then it would have never been introduced because for a big reform like this you may not have a fully tried and tested model.
So in 2017 when GST was introduced it was a very good step by the Government. In 2006 it was declared that GST will be introduced in 2010 so after 2010 any time was good for introduction of GST.
The problem was settlement of various matters between the centre and the states. Once this was settled so after that further wait would have been be harmful.
But when GST was once introduced the journey was not handled properly. What was initially planned was never introduced properly especially with respect to filling of returns and other procedural part.
The initial mistakes were very heavy and further matching concept was not introduced as it was planned. So the problems were started even at the very initial stage.
More confusion then more circulars and clarification and then again more confusion but for that you cannot blame the political Leadership. The political leadership has done its duty but after that GST team failed to handle it properly. For them it was also a new experience so they have learnt so much from their initial mistakes and now working hard to solve the problems which itself is a very tough task now.
If the procedures at initial stage were somewhat simple and then converted into stricter procedures with the course of time as per the need and requirement, it would have resulted in better implementation. But they have done it the other way round, so problems were inevitable.
One thing is more Ajay, the Professionals and Dealers have faced it very courageously and done a very good job. One thing more about good results of GST is that professionals have developed the habit to read the law again and again. Their Study and working time is also increased considerably and it was good for their professional life and it made them good learners also, apart from good performers.
CA AJAY SHARMA: This is not your reply to my question but is a clear message to Tax Payers, Professionals and law makers. Please carry on sir……
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: So In my opinion introduction of GST was very timely and good action, the journey was not so good and it was full of problems, confusions and complexities. The dealers and professionals have done very well though it was very tough time for them also.
Now we hope everybody will work for betterment of the GST to make it good and Simple Tax which is the dream of our Hon. PM.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sir, you are the biggest contributor of GST on twitter. You have written so many times about late fees on GST returns on twitter. Finally what is your say? It should be returned to dealers?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Yes my contribution on GST in twitter has given me more than 16000 followers. It is a very good platform to express in 140 words. I have in all more than 3500 tweets to my credit and barring certain exceptions, all of them are GST tweets. Even some of the Leading News Papers have used my tweets in their News articles sometimes.
Regarding Late fees I have written so many times and my say is that when everything is on trial and error basis in GST then why any late fees. The late fees should be refunded in all the cases because GST is a new law and they have already paid interest for the delay.
One more thing at certain point of time the late fees for the defaulting dealers was waived but the law abiding dealers have already paid the late fees. This is also a point but in my opinion now all the late fees charged should be refunded.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Yes sir you are the biggest supporter of “Return of Late Fees Campaign.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Naturally. You can say it was written by me so many times again and again.
CA AJAY SHARMA: In your opinion what is the biggest procedural defect in GST… I know you certainly say so many… But my question is biggest?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: So Ajay, you want to know about one biggest mistake and it is not a very tough task. Everybody knows Revision facility not given for GSTR-3B and this is the biggest mistake.
I am sharing you one instance of my office when first return filed by us was wrong and at that time I realised they have committed a very big mistake by not allowing the revision of GSTR-3B and Lawmakers should give revision facility for GSTR-3B. It was not given even after repeated request from all the experts and from trade and Industry. This mistake of law makers has made it more complex.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sudhir Sir what about annual returns of GST? How assessment will be made through these annual returns. Do you have any suggestions?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: See that without revision facility of GSTR-3B the annual returns will not be able to help the assessment of the dealer.
Further they should have provided an explanatory schedule in the annual return where the dealer can provide all the information which he want to convey to the Department i.e. when and in which return of the following year he reversed the input credit or when and in which return of next year he has claimed the left over ITC and further clarifications he wants to give.
Now in absence of any clarification, the dealers will be called to explain and it will certain defeat the purpose of GST.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sudhir Sir, Now GST Council.. It is working very well to solve the problems of GST? Are you satisfied?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: GST council is a very wonderful concept and it was beauty of our federal system of governance. It has proper representation of States and centre. The meetings are regular but GST has plethora of problems so I must say here that process of problem identification by the GST council is very slow so the decisions are also coming with the same speed.
Once it was said that the GST council is as powerful as “European Union” but I said identification of problems is very slow and follow up by the Lawmakers is further slow otherwise the council is working very well.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Now Something about GSTN. How it is working? Lot of dissatisfaction is there with respect to GSTN in dealers and in Professionals working with GST.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: GSTN is one of the main sources of creating problems in GST. If Government decides to return the late fees of dealers then GSTN should be identified as sole reason for this. From day one GSTN has problems and our lawmakers and GSTN took 30 Months to accept it.
If we consider the time factor covered by GSTN troubles I should say that Government should straight forward think about changing the service provider now and if this is not possible and existing service provider is not able to provide proper service then lawmakers should go for natural justice formula and give relaxation to dealers from some of the formalities or at least Late fees. What are the technical problems with GSTN; it is not matter of concern for the dealers, who are suffering due to this.
But steps are being taken for improving things and there is news that they are trying to improve their services so let’s wait for the good.
Let me Explain the problem related to GSTN in very interesting way…..
See you have organised a cricket match but have no facility to construct a 22 yards pitch but have 17 Yard pitch only. Now what is the alternate – prepare a new pitch having length of 22 Yards and postpone the till it is achieved or cancel the match. If you have the strong power and authority with you and you use it to compel the players to play on 17 yard pitch then be ready for lot of casualties. This story is also applicable here.
Further one thing should be noted here that any IT program or facility is created keeping in mind the requirement of next 10 years in mind but in this case of GSTN disaster was started in first month of its operation.
We, the professionals have indentified the mistake in 2017 itself and the service provider accepted it in 2020and still they need time to repair it. In my opinion they are late in indentifying the problem and it was nothing but a deliberate mistake because experts have the negative opinion about GSTN since inception of GST.
I am not agreeing that the GSTN problems are due to frequent changes in procedures and forms. If this is the problem it should be sorted out between Government and GSTN and nothing to do with ultimate users who suffered a lot.
This is irony of the biggest tax reform of the country.
CA AJAY SHARMA: What is biggest story of GST as far as Sudhir Halakhandi is concerned? As a professional who is also a Tax writer.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: I have started a campaign to educate the tax payers about the GST in 2016-17 and prepared 30 YouTube Videos for it in Hindi. I have written a Hindi E-Book for them. One of My video “How to make first GST Bill” has got 1.30 Lakhs viewers. A program was there in Prime time television slot on My GST e-Book on the eve of introduction of GST in India. My GST article was used by Lok Sabha secretariat…… So on and so forth…
And the next part of this Glorious story is that First return filed by me after
Introduction of GST was filed with a big and irreparable mistake…….. This is the Big GST Story. A tragic ….
CA AJAY SHARMA: Now again your personal side sir. You are a Cartoonist also. When it was started
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: A very Good question Ajay. I am always waiting for this question because I have lot of memories of my childhood with this question. It all started with Sunday News papers, Children’s Magazines like Lotpot,
Madhu-Muskan, Bal-Bharati etc. At that time I was a child. I got one of my cartoon published in Hindustan Times’ very popular Hindi weekly Saptahik Hindustan (साप्ताहिक हिन्दुस्तान) when I was still in class 8 or 9.
Later I developed some political cartoons and after entering into the professional the professional cartoons were there. Now we have GST cartoons!!!
CA AJAY SHARMA: How do you like described Sudhir Halakhandi. A professional, Tax Writer, Cartoonist..or Now Mystery writer..
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: A hardcore professional who can write, make cartoons sometimes. I love my Profession to the core.
Sudhir Halakhandi is a writer who is doing lot of silly mistakes while writing articles but never stopped writing. He wants to write on every subject and try his hand in everything so sometimes disasters are inevitable but he has the firm belief that the show must go on….
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sir you don’t need any critic…. You yourself can do this work very well !!
This question is from most of the professionals from small cities.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: OK. My good wishes to all of them. I am also one of them… from a small city..
CA AJAY SHARMA: Sudhir Sir, you have done very good work on GST and sometimes you say you are from a place which is still not a district head quarter. Still you are working from there. How do you managing? Do you have any regrets about this?
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Yes it is true that the place from where I am working is still not a district HQ. It is my native place BEAWAR in AJMER District and it is also my Birth Place. It is an Industrial town but I have not spent my childhood here because my father’s job was at Ajmer.
Even my schooling and college were not from here and after getting professional degree I returned back to this city. My Grand Father was working as sales Tax Practitioner here.
Initial years were very tough but soon the professional life was settled. I owed a lot to this place now so there are no regrets. Even my second generation is also working from this city hence this is also an indication that how things are working….
Practically my journey is from a comparative big city to a small town. This reversal is very rare in this profession but my journey till date is quite satisfactory. But I know it is very hard to work from small places so My salute to all the professionals working from small cities.
CA AJAY SHARMA: Yes Sir. You are the inspiration for lot of professionals working from small cities.
Nice Talking with You Mr. Sudhir Halakhandi.
SUDHIR HALAKHANDI: Thanks Brother for such a lovely interaction.