Mumbai: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) came into effect in the country nearly a year ago. But several indirect tax experts find that they still haven’t been approved as GST practitioners, despite having applied for registration months ago via the GST portal.
n this backdrop, the chairperson of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC — earlier known as CBEC), Vanaja Sarna, recently wrote to officials to expedite the process. Her letter dated May 4 says, “I would urge the officials to expedite the process of approval of GST practitioners. A proactive approach in facilitating the enrolment and helping the applicants in case they have committed any bona fide mistakes while making the application will only further our cause of achieving a trade-friendly image for the department.”
Rajeev Khandelwal, chartered accountant and an indirect tax expert, says “I applied on December 7, 2017. Since the last five months, there was no news on the same and the status was shown as ‘pending for processing’ on the GST portal. Recently, I received a letter (not a digital intimation) from the department stating that, due to some problems in the GST portal, it has been decided that the GST practitioner certificates will be given manually.” He was asked to submit documents such as educational qualifications and address proof by May 4. The letter was also dispatched by the authorities on the same date. He finds it mind boggling that he was also asked to produce a certificate or a declaration that he is a “person of sound mind”. “Will anyone admit to being of unsound mind?” he asks.
Government officials TOI spoke to admit that there are a few conditions for being a GST practitioner: He/she must be a citizen of India, must be of sound mind, should not have been adjudged as an insolvent and should not have been convicted of an offence with imprisonment of two years or more. They agree that it is unclear who should be giving a certificate that an applicant is of sound mind (whether a recognised hospital or a professional institution, if the applicant is a member of one).
Officials add that the self-declaration in this regard was meant to speed up the application process. A Mumbai-based chartered accountant says, “The application had to be made online, the enrolling authority can be Centre or state. In my experience, several applications where the enrolling authority was at state level faced delays.”
On a CA discussion portal, the general advice being given to participants is: The best option is to apply again for registration as a GST practitioner, but with a different email and phone number, and also selecting the enrolling authority as Centre.
There are other professionals who have been lucky enough to have got registered within one-three weeks. In the backdrop of the CBIC chief’s letter, those waiting anxiously have revived their hopes.
Once registered as a GST practitioner, an individual can file various forms on behalf of clients, make deposits for credit into the electronic cash ledger and appear as an authorised representative. He or she can, after confirmation from clients, also file a refund claim or an application for amendment or cancellation of the registration. Registration does not require a chartered accountancy qualification. Even certain graduates — say, from the commerce field — or certain retired revenue officials can register to be GST practitioners.