On the very first day of the goods and services tax (GST) rollout, most traders issued handmade bills as they are uncertain about the billing format.
Traders were welcoming of the new indirect tax regime. However they were in a state of confusion, as their core issues are still not being addressed. Traders fear that if the wrong bill is issued it will land them in jail or they might attract hefty fines from tax authorities.
Large establishments such as shopping malls and trading houses have updated their billing software. However, in case of small traders, they either do not have computerised billing systems or they are unaware of the billing process.
Sadanand Korgaonkar, president of Kolhapur Traders Federation said, "The main reason traders are issuing bills to both the buyer and seller in handmade formats is because they are yet to understand the billing process."
The rough bills can be finalised before the first tax return is filed. The government has extended the deadline for filling the first tax return till August. Till then the trader can update their software and issue the final bills.
There are also other complications involved in the billing process. The code for each item needs to be verified before issuing the bill. Item wise description also needs to be feed into the computers.
On Friday, the last day of the sales tax regime, traders offered discounts on older products in order to clear the stock.
On the first day of GST, as the sales tax window closed automatically, the traders could not sell the unsold stock.
Business in major markets such as Rajarampuri, Shahupuri and Lakshmipuri slowed down to clear the existing stock. Traders did not order new stock.
Since there was no clarity over tax rates and billing, traders shut their shops for a few hours. At many places, old price stickers were replaced with new ones containing the GST rates.
Ajit Kothari of electrical traders association said, "I think sale will be down for the next few weeks. It will take at least three to four months to gain clarity about the new tax regime."
Meanwhile, sub-dealers are yet to receive the GST number. Traders fear they will not get the tax return if the sub-dealer does not have the number.
Though the government has pushed back the date for filling returns, the trader still needs to pay a fine for every day's delay in filling the tax return.
At the sales tax department now known as GST department, a function was organised to welcome the new GST regime, .
Eminent economist Vijay Kakade was called to guide tax authorities through the new tax regime.
During the inauguration, state revenue minister Chandrakant Patil said, "GST will help increase transparency as well as the country's revenue. There will be little to no effect on inflation."
Source: Times of India
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