COVID-19: Sharp Decline Expected in April & May 2020 GST Collections

The e-way bills are required for transporting goods worth more than ₹50,000 within and across states under Goods and Service Tax (GST) law. These enable GST officials to keep a track on transactions without physically interfering with goods movement. The GST collections for a specific period can be seen by analysing the number of the e-way bill raised during that period.

When looking at April 2020, the taxpayers had generated only 67 lakh e-way bills, against the 4.06 crore made in March 2020. There is more than 83% fall in e-way bills generated in April 2020 set to have a significant effect on the GST revenue to be collected in May 2020. Also, the 4.06 crore e-way bills generated in March reflect a 28.9% drop from over 5.71 crore e-way bills generated in February. These figures are as per the data available from GST Network (GSTN) as on 27 April 2020. 

Usually, the government releases the GST revenue collections based on cash collection in a particular month. However, the government has extended the deadline to file GST returns for March for entities with turnover of more than Rs 5 crore by 15 days from the original due date, i.e. 05 May 2020.

A taxpayer can file the return by the extended deadline without payment of any interest, late fee and penalty. However, a reduced rate of 9% interest will be levied if the return is filed after 05 May 2020 till 30 June 2020. Hence, due to the COVID-19 situation, the government is anticipating that more returns will be filed and more GST revenue can be collected before 05 May 2020.

Also Read: Customs & Excise Hearings to be Conducted via VC

Anyway, the real impact of the lockdown on GST revenue will be reflected in the revenue collections in May 2020 (for business activity in April 2020) as the country was in complete lockdown last month where only essential services permitted. The GST collections can be expected majorly from telecom, food processing, FMCG and pharma during the countrywide lockdown.

When we take a glance at the financial year 2019-20,  the GST revenue collection grew by 3.8% to Rs 12.2 trillion from the year-ago period. Also, the collections are above Rs 1 lakh crore mark for seven months out of 12 months, and the collection was Rs 97,597 crore in March.

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