There has been enough discussion around GST in the past 12 months. From debates about its viability, to possible impact on economy, global comparison with nations which have adopted the structure to experts from different sectors dissecting it, we have seen it all. The fact of the matter is that this reform in tax structure is a reality of the day and businesses have no choice but to adopt.
Like any other transformation, this change will also take its own time to sink-in, both in minds of people and in their ways of doing business. So, why is there such a furore about something which has been scanned by innumerable financial experts and has been implemented after thorough economic deliberation for larger good of the nation? I would say, it is just fear of the unknown.
The major challenge in India‘s way of tax compliance is that we are not a DIY (Do it yourself) economy. Whenever there is a conversation about taxation, be it direct income tax or indirect business taxation we rather have our very own subject matter expert – ‘The CA friend’ do it for us. And, despite availability of various tools and techniques at our disposal, we shy away from such discussions and activities blaming them to be too complex for our understanding. Taxation is not the only subject accused of being too complex, even insurance, financial investments and other matters of money, fall under the DFY (Done For You) category in India.
While excessive technology dependency, complicated structure of compliance, massive revisions in product changes within the tax slabs, last minute alterations in timelines etc. are being highlighted as some common roadblocks for GST compliance, one major reason which most often goes unnoticed is the psychological barrier in change adoption. When was the last time any economic change was welcomed with open arms by all stakeholder groups in India? Diversity of our nation is a well-known reality. This rich diversity brings with itself plethora of dissimilar opinions, which are then laced by local and national political point of views and undercurrents, which together make for a perfect cocktail of sentiments which have you vote-in or against a change.
Moving away from the topic of embracing or discarding the change, let us look at the situation from an inside-out point of view. GSTN is being chastened for technology hiccups, network failure, slow movement on various counts and many more reasons. Now, let us take a step back and go back in memory to remember the times when millions of people login to any particular technology platform, do you remember the outcome?
Your CBSE board results, booking a ticket in ‘tatkal quota’ on the IRCTC website, logging in to a flash sale at any e-commerce website portal, when has the network not broken down? Any form or technology, comes with a particular load capacity and whenever we overshoot that limit, it is bound to break down. Then, why are we singling out GSTN in this case?
Instead, shouldn’t we be questioning our laidback behaviour for this break-down? Procrastination is intrinsic to our nature, we always wait for the last day of tax compliance and if given an option, we do not even mind paying a little extra to even file our returns post the date of compliance. If this same load is divided across different days of the month, evenly throughout timeslots, half the problem is resolved there itself. Therefore, I would conclude by saying that GST compliance is a reality we cannot shy away from and hence, instead of creating much ado about nothing, let us all embrace the change and start acting in the direction of positivity together.
(Ankit Agarwal is Managing Director at Alankit Limited)