From the day the Constitutional (101st Amendment) Act, 2016 has been passed unanimously in both the Houses of the Parliament, GST has become certainty. Ever since it has been declared that GST may come into effect from 1st April 2017, later on amended to 1st July 2017, it has become talk of the town.
At present, tax payers are separately registered with State and/ or with Central tax administrations or with both based on their business activity. In the GST regime, a taxpayer will have to obtain State wise registration. Even within a State, the taxpayer may either opt for a single registration or multiple registrations for different business verticals.
Are existing assessees, already registered under existing Central or State laws required to obtain fresh registration or not, is a million dollar question today. Currently GST migration is going on full swing through www.gst.gov.in. As per the Government’s plan, the GSTN shall migrate all Service Tax, VAT and Excise assessees to the GST Network and issue GSTIN number and password. Thereafter submission of requisite documents and information be needed in a prescribed period of time. The service tax assessees having centralized registration will have to apply afresh in the respective states wherever they have their businesses. Since PAN is mandatory for migration, thus it has to be obtained and updated with registration details in the ACES portal.
According to the GST Model Law issued in 2016, every person registered under any of the earlier laws and having a valid PAN shall be issued a Certificate of Registration on a provisional basis, on the appointed day, in such form and manner as may be prescribed. The said Certificate to be issued shall be valid for a period of six months from the date of its issue. That implies that once GST comes into effect, the assessees will be granted a minimum of six months to get migrated and obtain the GST Certificate. Further to clarify, appointed day means such date on which Goods and Services Tax Act, 2016 comes into effect, by notification in the Official Gazette.
The said Act specifies no such compulsion for the existing assessees, to get migrated with the GST Portal or GSTN before the Act comes into effect. Now the question arise as to why the States and the Centre are pushing the assessees to get migrated to GST at this tentative stage, when even the draft of the law is not approved or has taken a form of the Act.
As per the Report on GST Registration issued in 2015, the process of migration of data must be started sufficiently in advance so that the business of existing registrants does not suffer and transition from the present system to GST is smooth. With regard to the migration of data of the existing registrants, the system is expected to be designed to migrate verified data from the existing database to the GST Common Portal, generating a GSTIN. In connection with the same, Act specifies no such compulsion on part of the assessees to get migrated before implementation of the Act, rather the GST Portal is expected to be sound enough to facilitate suave migration process, within a transition period of six months, as expressed in the Draft Model Law issued in November, 2016. However, in a haste to show the numbers and success, the States are pushing to the extent of causing hardship and panic amongst the unaware trade and industry.
Contributed by Ms. Ruhi Jhota