Recently, many frivolous queries are seen to have been raised by concerned officials when businessman applies for registration of GST Number. Following are some examples.
- Promoters/Partners - Residential Address - Others (Please specify) - PROVIDE DETAIL OF LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE: Fact is there is not any facility on GST portal to enter such latitude and longitude for partner’s personal address at the time of applying for registration.
- Authorized Representative - Authorized Representative - Others (Please specify) - FILL ALL THE DETAILS WITH ENROLMENT ID. E KYC AND AUTHORITY LETTER: The fact is - This query is seen to have been raised in some of those cases also where the applicant had clearly selected No against Authorized Representative.
- Aadhaar Authentication - Aadhaar Authentication Status - E-KYC Documents - Provide E-KYC Documents for the person whose Authentication has failed or Not Tried: The fact is - This query is seen to have been raised in some of those cases also where the applicant had already completed Aadhaar authentication through OTP.
- Business Details - Details of your Business - Others (Please specify) - UPLOAD SHOP ESTABLISHMENT CERTIFICATE OR MSME CERTIFICATE OR ANY OTHER PROOF OF BUSINESS: The fact is there need not be any such registration before applying for GST registration as per legal provisions laid down under GST Act.
- Authorized Representative - Authorized Representative - Others (Please specify) - KINDLY PROVIDE DETAILS OF AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE (CONSULTANT /CA) DETAILS (NAME, MEMBERSHIP NUMBER, OFFICE ADDRESS ETC.) WITH AUTHORIZATION APPOINTMENT LETTER, SELF ATTESTED COPY OF IDENTITY PROOF AND REGISTRATION NUMBER WITH PROOF
- Principal Place of Business - Address - Others (Please specify) - EXPLAIN ON THIS PLACE H ANY BUSINESS WAS RUNNING EARLIER OR PRESENT RUNNING NOW PLEASE DESCRIBE ITS FIRM NAME AND GSTN NUMBER
- Principal Place of Business - Nature of Possession - Others (Please specify) - UPLOAD CLEAR, READABLE AND FULL RENT AGREEMENT WITH IS ALL LEGAL ATTACHMENTS AND PAN CARD, AADHAR CARD, AND UPLOAD LEGAL OWNERSHIP PROOF OF PROPERTY LATEST INDEX COPY, LATEST TAX BILL COPY. The fact is - GST portal allows only 100 KB to 1 MB size for such important documents and at the same time expects very high-resolution uploads.
- Goods and Services - Details of Goods - Details of Goods - please describe how many years experience for this business and this business operated by you or any other person? If any other person describes the relation with this person and his UPLOAD KYC DOCUMENTS WITH PHOTOGRAPH And more HAVE YOU DECIDED From which merchants will you buy goods and to whom will you sell them? describe two or three party's name and GSTN numbers. The fact is no such details are required as per GST Act to get GST registration.
These are only a few of those frivolous queries. For more such queries, one may search on social media or every tax consultant must have been noticing such queries in Whatsapp group discussions also nowadays.
Now, coming to the core matter as to how it can badly affect our economy.
- Many entrepreneurs might get discouraged which can badly affect their morale to engage in business again.
- Government would lose not only its GST revenue but also other incidental revenues like Income Tax and other local taxes.
- Getting disappointed with such unnecessary questions by officials, in extreme cases, one may start doing the business without GST number on totally cash basis (which one must not do in any case). Hence it may encourage a parallel economy as well.
- Cases might be filed against such frivolous queries and consequent denial of GST registrations in courts of law which will waste the precious time of such courts which are already having number of cases pending with them.
- Government will have to fight back such cases on behalf of such officials which will result into a waste of public money.
- "Ease of doing business"rank of our country may also get down due to such hurdles in getting even tax registrations.
- Hurdles in the way of business may result into unemployment and consequential poverty and probable increase in the crime rate.
And above all these, one thing I want to remind is Article 19 of the Constitution of India. This article protects certain rights which inter alia includes right to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
If some businessman is denied tax registration, yet he conducts his business and crosses a statutory threshold limit of tax registration, then also these tax officials will not let him live with peace. Thus, in legal terms, it can be interpreted that such tax officials are depriving such businessmen of their constitutional right to carry on business.
To catch handful of culprits, mass must not be punished. On the contrary, 1000 culprits can escape but, one innocent should not be punished.
What GST council must do on a prompt basis?
- Permitted size of documents to be uploaded to avail GST registration must be increased to at least 5 MB in case of documents with multiple pages like partnership deed, rent deed etc. and upto 2 MB in case of other documents.
- Arrangement on website must be made in such a way that when the authorized representative tab is answered a "No" by the applicant, official can’t generate any query on that point at all.
- Arrangement on website must be made in such a way that when the aadhar authentication is done successfully by the applicant, official can't generate a query on that point at all.
- Standard list of queries must be drafted and incorporated into the system. Any query to be raised by the officials which is outside that standard list must require approval by higher authority, at least of Assistant Commissioner level. It will result into fixation of duties in more appropriate manner and it will be helpful to prevent some frivolous queries being asked.
- It should also keep trying to curb possible corruption in granting such registrations and must ensure that genuine registrations are granted without unnecessary delay and harassment.
"Ease of Doing Business" and "Minimum Government Maximum Governance" must not be only decorative phrases.