The Goods and Services Tax Council took a slew of decisions during its 23rd meeting in Guwahati on Friday to benefit consumers and businesses alike. While consumers will stand to benefit from a number of rate cuts, including the tax on restaurants, businesses stand to benefit from a significant easing of compliance norms to do with filing returns.

What has changed with the forms?

Up to November 15, when the decisions take effect, the GST system requires businesses to submit at least three forms to file their returns. The GSTR-1 dealt with the invoice-wise details of supply, GSTR-2 dealt with the receipts of goods, and GSTR-3 was an overall summary derived from the two previous forms.

Now, the GST Council has decided that, in order to ease the compliance burden on businesses, companies would be allowed to only file the GSTR-1 form, up to March 31, 2018.

The Council has set up a committee to look into how to make the GSTR-2 form easier, following which it will be brought back into the system.

The Council also decided to extend the usage of the summary GSTR-3B form, meant to make life easier for those unfamiliar with the filing process, till March 31 from the earlier December 31 deadline.

What has changed with the deadlines?

Normally, the GSTR-1, GSTR-2, and GSTR-3 forms had to be filed by the 10th, 15th, and 20th of the subsequent month, respectively. The GST Council decided to relax these deadlines for both small businesses as well as large enterprises, although in different ways for each.

Companies with a turnover of up to ₹1.5 crore a year will now be able to file their GSTR-1 forms for each month in a quarterly manner. That is, the GSTR-1 forms for July to September are to now be filed by December 31, the October to December forms by February 15, 2018 and the January to March forms by April 30, 2018.

Companies earning ₹1.5 crore or more a year can file their July to October forms by December 31. Thereafter, they will have to file monthly returns, but with a delay of 40 days from the end of the taxable period. That is, the returns for November will have to be filed by January 10, those for December by February 10, and so on.

What is the penalty now for filing late?

Not only did the latest Council meeting ease the deadlines, but it also slashed the penalties for filing late. For companies with nil tax liability for a particular month, the penalty for delays has been cut to ₹20 per day from ₹200 per day. All other companies will have to file a penalty of ₹50 per day, down from ₹200 per day.

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