Press Release dated 24th October, 2017 was issued by Government to announce the waiver of late fee on the filing of GSTR-3B for August and September, 2017. In this press release it was stated as follows:-
"Electronic cash ledger of the taxpayers who have already paid the late fee on the filing of GSTR-3B either for the month of August or September, 2017 or those who pay such fee before the necessary changes are carried out in the IT system will be credited with the amount of late fee so paid by them. The enabling notifications are being issued shortly."
Thus, the press release clearly stated that if any late fee is paid on filing of GSTR-3B, the same shall be credited in the electronic cash ledger. To implement the above-said decision informed in the press release, Notification No. 50/2017 - Central Tax dated 24.10.2017 was issued. The language contained in this notification is produced as follows:-
"In exercise of the powers conferred by section 128 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (12 of 2017), the Central Government, on the recommendations of the Council, hereby waives the late fee payable under section 47 of the said Act, for all registered persons who failed to furnish the return in FORM GSTR-3B for the months of August and September, 2017 by the due date."
The analysis of above notification makes it clear that only the late fee has been waived. There is no indication that the late fees already paid will be refunded. However, the notification is viable also as the same has been issued in the powers conferred by section 128 of the CGST Act, 2017.
This section reads as follows:-
"The Government may, by notification, waive in part or full, any penalty referred to in section 122 or section 123 or section 125 or any late fee referred to in section 47 for such class of taxpayers and under such mitigating circumstances as may be specified therein on the recommendations of the Council."
This section simply grants the power the waive the penalty or late fees. It does not grant the power to refund the late fee or penalty already paid. Therefore, the notification is correctly issued under the provisions of CGST Act, 2017. However, the press release had promised something that is beyond the powers conferred in section 128. Also, since the press release does not have any legal binding; we cannot claim its verdict court of law. Therefore, as of now, there is no legal support to those tax payers who have already paid the late fee on filing of GSTR 3B for the month of August and September, 2017.