Expert Take: No GST credit if vendors aren’t paid in 90 days
The Government circulated draft of the GST Model Law requesting for suggestions from the industry. The industry and experts have been poring over the draft. The article seeks to highlight the need to reconsider one of the provisions related to input tax credits. The proposed GST Legislation appears to deny tax credit in relation to input services for which payments are made after three months of the date of the invoice of the supplier.
In fact the proposal mandates payment of interest in addition to the denial of credit. Also, under the current legislation, customer can re-claim the credit reversed earlier on making payment against the invoice.
However, a similar provision is missing under GST and consequently may result in permanent loss of input credit of tax paid earlier. It appears that this proposal was inserted to mitigate benami transactions. This anxiety is clearly misplaced for several reasons:
A) The compliance prescribed under the GST regime requires every person making a supply to upload transaction wise details on to the GST network and input tax credits are available to purchaser only where the tax as reported by the supplier is actually deposited. It is evident that therefore there is very little possibility of any revenue leakage or wrongful claiming of credit.
B) Any supplier charging tax would need to necessarily register and report the transactions. The Government will have all the information and can identify and pursue any suspicious activity. It needs to be appreciated that the GST compliance regime is a paradigm change from the present framework and the potency of the GSTN in curbing tax evasion or abuse has not fully been appreciated.
C) The proposal mandating effective reversal of credit and imposing interest actually is double taxation on the same service. Given that the supplier has already paid tax and the amount equivalent of credit taken is sought to be recovered from the customer, will clearly result in cascading tax. While the intention to curb abuse is laudable – penalising the whole industry is daunting.
The Government necessarily needs to be sensitive to the negative impact on the Industry both in terms of cascading tax impact, double taxation and also the uncertainty that the possibility of denial of credit leads to.
There can be several genuine reasons on account of which payments could get delayed. These reasons could range from innocuous issues such as delay in sending invoices by a supplier or time taken for processing such invoices to issues related to commercial disagreements. Every denial of tax credit only on account of delays in payment will result in the increase in cost. Such a provision may not align with a progressive GST Regime, which aims to eliminate double taxation and cascading of tax as also ease in compliance and administration.
(The author is Tax Partner, EY India. Views expressed are personal.)