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Covid surge: GST, TDS filings haunt taxpayers

Covid surge: GST, TDS filings haunt taxpayers
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With second wave of Covid-19, taxpayers and tax professionals who got infected may not be able to pay taxes such as GST and TDS or file GST returns

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Mumbai: Taxpayers across the country are tense these days due to the fast arrival of due dates for filing tax returns as they find it difficult to do the job amid Covid crisis. The crucial dates like 20th April to 24th April (the due dates for filing of GST Return 3b) and 30th April (the due date for payment of TDS) are haunting the tax consultants and their clients the most these days in the wake of sudden spike in Covid cases across the country.

"I am tested positive for Covid-19 and isolated at home. Due to this, neither I nor my wife can visit bank for payment of taxes. The government should immediately relax the due dates to save the small business from increased liabilities of interest and penalties at this critical time," says Rohit Verma, a Noida based businessman. The taxpayers have resorted to Twitter to raise their voice through hashtags like '#Extend_Due_Date_Immediately' and '#Extend_Due_Dates'. These hashtags are trending on twitter for extension of due dates of GST and TDS returns in the wake of sudden rise of coronavirus cases. These tweets speak volumes the tough time taxpayers are having due to the surge in second wave of Covid-19 and their inability in filing tax return in the given timeline.

"With sudden wave of Covid-19, many tax payers and tax professionals who have got infected themselves or have to run around saving lives of near and dear ones may not be able to pay taxes such as GST and TDS or file GST returns before the due date," says a New Delhi-based Chartered Accountant Abhishek Aneja. Even last year, at the time of first wave of Covid-19, the central government had acted reasonably and came out with the required relaxations in the due dates. This is the need of the hour now as well, he added. The situation is so scary that some of the young CAs have died of the infection in the recent past, while they were busy conducting bank audits. "The finance and tax professionals are also struggling with office closure, staff shortage and physical documentation specially required for small business where they manage their entire accounting and tax work. All this is creating a problem for timely filing of returns," says Ajay Mohan, a New Mumbai-based Registered Valuer (SFA) and management accountant.

The central govt should extend dues dates of small businesses having turnover less than Rs 100 crore so that they could submit their compliances and avoid late payment and penalty for delay in filling returns, he added.

With above mentioned issues, small businesses have problem in filing of various returns of GST, Income tax, company law and labour law compliances. The small businesses are already facing financing problems and burden of late fees and penalty will further increase their woes. They could have avoided these fees and penalties if things would have been normal. But in this situation, they are helpless and are under financial and mental pressure for no fault of theirs. Sanjay Aggarwal, president, PHDCCI told Bizz Buzz that the Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman did speak to him over phone on Sunday to know his views on how to tackle the ongoing situation of second wave of Covid, but the very issue of extension of due date for filing of the return for direct and indirect taxes didn't figure in the interaction. "We are currently in the process of writing a letter to the government shortly, requesting the government to extend the due date of filing of returns by a minimum of 15 days, keeping in view the given scenario," Aggarwal said. The demand for extension of tax return filing dates is pouring in from various parts of the country. For example, the Federation of Trade Associations of Pune has raised a demand for extension of filing GST returns. In an interesting development, Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray has written a letter to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, urging him to postpone the GST return submission or March & April at least for three months for small and medium taxpayers. Department of Trade and Taxes, GNCT of Delhi shall remain closed during the period of curfew imposed. Order dated April 19 issued by Special Commissioner T&T with specific directions to all the officers including the directions to work from home using VPN link. It has further added to the woes of the taxpayers.

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