The much-awaited GST Tax India or Goods and Services Tax is a tax reform that will transform the way businesses are conducted in India. This destination based tax that will be launched on a digital platform from day zero requires state of the art technology infrastructure. IT is indeed the backbone on which the success of GST is hinged upon. Providing this humungous IT infrastructure for GST that subsumes a plethora of indirect taxes and brings all taxpayers on one single platform is the GST network or GSTN. Here are five things about GSTN, a company that will know it all about GST.
What is GSTN?
It is a non-Government and non- profit private limited company registered under the New Companies Act in March 2013. This GST suvidha provider has been formed to provide a uniform interface to taxpayers through common and shared IT infrastructure between the Centre and the States. It is structured in a manner to enable processing and exchange of information among all stakeholders of GST meaning tax paying organisations, accounting offices, Central and state Governments, banks and RBI. GSTN is responsible not only for developing a sound IT infrastructure but provide effective dispute resolution as and when required.
Functions of GSTN
GSTN has developed a common GST portal that will function as the front end of the overall GST ecosystem. Here are the main functions it will carry out:
- Registration facilitation for taxpayers
- Filing and Forwarding of returns to central and state taxation authorities
- Computation and settlement of IGST
- Matching tax payment details with banking network
- Analysing profiles of tax payers and running matching engine for taxpayers to claim input credit tax.
Shareholding and management
The shareholding pattern of GSTN is as follows:
The Government- centre and states plus UTs – 49% (central Government 24.5% state and UT Governments- 24.5%)
51% of the remaining share is divided among five financial institutions namely-
LIC Housing Finance -11% stake
NSE Strategic Investment Corporation LTD, HDFC, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank- 10% each
As far as the management is concerned, there are 14 members in the GSTN Board with the central and state Governments having 7 members including the Chairman. Private shareholders have 3 members while the remaining 3 are independent members. The board has also appointed a chief executive officer. The strategic control thus lies with the Government, despite it being non- Governmental in shareholding pattern.
GSPs appointed by GSTN to assist taxpayers
The success of GST tax India will lie in the tax automation and the successful migration of taxpaying organisations on the GSTN platform. The makers of GST realise that this migration will require handholding especially those of small and medium sized business. To assist in migration and smooth and hassle-free compliance with GST thereafter, GSTN has handpicked 34 IT enabled services and financial technology companies called GSPs or GST Suvidha Providers. The GSPs appointed by GSTN have developed highly reliable, cloud based customised solutions for taxpayers to make interaction with GSTN a breeze.
Security concerns addressed
In the recent past there have been some concerns regarding the security of the GSTN IT network given the fact that a massive ransomware infected IT systems over 100 countries including about 2 lakh systems in Inida. The GSTN that has been functional since November 2016 has not been affected. The IT systems deployed by GSTN are not only state of the art but also best in class. The security features of the GSTN are embedded at the code level and the data is encrypted. Besides there are additional firewalls to protect it from any cyber-attack threats. Close to 70 lakh tax assesses have migrated to the GSTN portal and others are in the fray.
GST will transform Indian businesses and bring in transparency in tax compliance. GSTN is well equipped to handle this massive change, and despite teething problems will enhance efficiencies and ease of doing business in the long run.