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October 19, 2020

Writ Petition filed in Bombay HC for extension of GSTR 9 and GSTR 9C

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in GST

Writ Petition filed in Bombay HC for extension of GSTR 9 and GSTR 9C

The current COVID-19 pandemic has made the entire world sit up and realise that medical exigencies are unpredictable and can cause a financial upheaval that is tough to handle. With the commencement of 2020-21 financial year the effects of coronavirus have affected the stability of the economy of 150 countries – jeopardising their lifestyle, economy, impacting business and assumption of common wellbeing which we had taken for granted.

The COVID 19 pandemic has been largely disruptive to the growth of India. With an ever-increasing corona virus cases, lockdown was considered as an only solution to flatten the curve. However, the measures which were implemented to avoid a human disaster, have in turn led to the birth of several issues such as unemployment, recession, hindrance to economic growth, financial instability and so on.

Due to the emerging financial distress faced by most people on account of the large-scale economic distress caused by COVID 19, the Government of India had extended the due dates of various provisions to provide relief in the current pandemic situation.

The Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Niramla Sitharaman announced several important relief measures taken by the Government of India in view of COVID-19 outbreak, especially on statutory and regulatory compliance matters related to several areas of Income Tax, GST, Customs & Central Excise and Corporate Affairs.

On 15th October, 2020, Sr Adv Ashok Saraf appeared for Confederation of GST Professionals and Industries in the Writ petition relating to extension of due date for GSTR 9 and 9C in Bombay High Court.

What is Form GSTR 9?

Form GSTR-9 is an annual return to be filed by the businesses registered under GST. In Form GSTR-9, one has to declare the consolidated details of outward supplies, inward supplies, GST payable and ITC claimed for the previous financial year. 

The annual GST Return filling consists of different returns forms. Basis of the GST registration type and annual turnover, the businesses need to file the applicable annual GST return form.

  • GSTR-9: should be filed by the regular taxpayers who are filing GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B
  • GSTR-9A: should be filed by the persons registered under composition scheme under GST
  • GSTR-9C: should be filed by the taxpayers whose annual turnover exceeds Rs 2 crores during the financial year.

All such taxpayers are also required to get their accounts audited and file a copy of audited annual accounts, reconciliation statement of tax already paid and details of tax payable as per audited accounts, along with this return

Extension of Due Date for FY 2018-19

After obtaining due clearances from the Election Commission in view of the Model Code of Conduct, Government has extended due date for furnishing Annual Return in GSTR-9 and GSTR 9C for 2018-19 from 30.09.2020 to 31.10.2020.

The government had in May extended the last date for filing annual GST return for financial year 2018-19 by three months till September 2020.

Petition for extension of due date of filing Annual return

On 15th October, 2020, Sr Adv Ashok Saraf appeared for Confederation of GST Professionals and Industries in the Writ petition relating to extension of due date for GSTR 9 and 9C in Bombay High Court.

Court had noted specifically that the utility for filing GSTR 9 and GSTR 9C for FY 2018-19 was not available till 29th February, 2020 and there was a complete lockdown till 31st May, 2020. Thereafter, also there were severe restrictions on attendance of staff.

It was also put before the Court that because of the pandemic, staff was restricted up to 10% from June to August. From September, 30% staff was allowed in the offices. Therefore, CA’s now have heavy audit responsibilities because of this mandate.

Sr Adv Ashok Saraf also showed the minutes of the 39th GST Council Meeting wherein the Council had admitted that utility for filing GSTR 9 and GSTR 9C for FY 2018-19 was not available till 29th February, 2020 and also that there were problems with Table 8A etc after it was made available.

It was argued that the statute gives 9 months from 31st March to 31st December. On ordinary principles of limitation, the period up to 29th February, 2020 must be excluded and the date will then be 30th November, 2020. Also, by excluding the lockdown period from March 2020 to May 2020, the due date should ideally end by February 2021. However, the Petitioner did not want to shrink away from statutory responsibility of audit and was asking extended time till 31st December, 2020 only, even though they were legally entitled till February 2021.

Bombay High Court noted all the arguments of the petitioners and told the Revenue that this was not adversarial litigation and that a solution had to be worked out. Court has called for ASG to appear and tell the Court how the Union of India intends to resolve these matters for benefit of all. Matter was adjourned to 27th October, 2020.

Adhering to tax-related compliance proposed by the Indian government is mandatory for taxpayers in India. Non-compliance with due dates of GST return filing as well as GST rules may result in imposing of heavy penalties by the government for taxpayers in India. Tax compliances have been difficult especially in the COVID period where importance for foremost given to human health and safety and hence this petition of extension was sought.

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