GST Council Waives Interest and Penalties on Retrospective Notices For 2017–2020

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The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has resolved to waive interest and penalties on retrospective notices for the period between 2017 and 2020, which is an important measure intended to provide relief to businesses throughout India. 

This decision is a result of the Council’s continuous efforts to simplify the GST system and lessen the cost of compliance for companies.

What is the Goods and Services Tax System?

On July 1, 2017, India adopted the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which was a major overhaul of the nation’s indirect tax structure. A single unified tax system was created when the national and state governments’ various indirect taxes were absorbed by the GST.

Notwithstanding its advantages, the first few years of the GST’s implementation were difficult due to several problems, including frequent changes in rules, technological difficulties, and compliance problems.

Retrospective Notices

Demands made by tax authorities for the periods before the notice’s issuance are referred to as retrospective notices. These letters often concern anomalies discovered during audits or reviews of returns submitted in the initial years of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) system. 

The initial phase of GST regulations and compliance requirements has presented businesses with significant challenges in responding to these letters.

Objectives of the GST

Since independence, one of the most significant tax reforms in India has been the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). It established a single tax in place of many indirect taxes, including service tax, VAT, central excise duty, and various state levies, resulting in the creation of a single market throughout the nation.

One of the main goals of the GST implementation was:

Unifying the Tax Structure

By substituting a single tax for several, the GST sought to streamline the intricate indirect tax system.

Elimination of Tax Cascading

One of GST’s main advantages is the removal of the tax cascade effect, which raises prices for both consumers and companies by levying tax on tax.

Increase in Tax Compliance

The GST attempted to lower tax evasion and raise tax compliance by streamlining the tax code and utilizing technology.

Creation of a Unified Market

By lowering trade and commerce obstacles between states, the GST was intended to establish a single national market.

Implications for Businesses

Financial Relief

Businesses, tiny and medium-sized firms (SMEs), who have been facing cash flow problems and rising compliance costs, would bear a lighter financial load because of the remission of interest and penalties.

Less Litigation

The GST Council hopes to lessen the amount of litigation that occurs in tax tribunals and courts by eliminating these fees. Numerous companies have contested the retroactive requests, which resulted in protracted court cases.

Encouragement of Compliance

It is anticipated that this action would promote improved compliance as companies will be more inclined to pay their bills on time without worrying about incurring considerable interest and penalties.

Better Business Environment

By resolving a significant issue that businesses were experiencing with the GST regime, the judgment is probably going to make things better for businesses in general.

Challenges in GST 

Many difficulties were encountered during the first phase of the GST implementation, which led to the issue of retroactive notices:

Technical Faults

The IT foundation of the GST system, the GST Network (GSTN), had many technical problems that resulted in mistakes in tax payments and return submissions.

Frequently Modified Laws

In the early years, there were a lot of modifications made to the GST laws and regulations, which made it challenging for businesses to comply with the criteria.

Lack of clarification

Different interpretations of the GST law by companies and tax officials resulted from a lack of clarification on several areas of the law.

Compliance Burden

SMEs found the GST compliance requirements to be onerous, which led to unintentional mistakes and omissions in returns.

Government Initiatives to Make GST Compliance Easier

Taking note of these difficulties, the government and the GST Council have launched several measures to streamline the GST system and facilitate compliance:

Simplified Returns

The filing procedure has been made simpler for taxpayers with the introduction of simplified return forms such as GSTR-3B and GSTR-1.

Annual reports and Reconciliation

Businesses now have less effort in terms of compliance due to the relaxation of the necessity for annual reports and reconciliation statements.

E-invoicing and QR Codes

Improving transparency and streamlining the invoicing process are the goals of e-invoicing and QR codes.

Grievance Redressal Procedure

To address the challenges and concerns that taxpayers encounter, a robust grievance redressal procedure has been established.

Awareness and Training Programmes

To inform taxpayers about the GST regulations and compliance obligations, the government has organized several awareness and training programs.

Future of the GST System in India

A positive step towards developing a more business-friendly GST system is the waiving of interest and penalties on retroactive notifications. Nonetheless, further focus is required in a few areas to guarantee the long-term viability of GST in India:

Stable and Predictable Tax Environment

Businesses will be able to plan more efficiently and comply with regulations if there is a stable and predictable tax environment with few changes to laws and regulations.

Ongoing Technology Upgradation

To solve technical problems and improve the effectiveness of the GST system, the GSTN, and other technological infrastructure must be upgraded on an ongoing basis.

Capacity Building

Improving the resources and training available to tax authorities would aid in the more effective implementation and enforcement of the GST regulations.

Stakeholder Engagement

Identifying and resolving problems with the GST system would be made easier with regular interaction with stakeholders, which include companies, trade groups, and tax experts.

International Best Practices

The system’s efficacy and efficiency can be further increased by implementing and adhering to international best practices for the GST.

GST Council Waives Interest and Penalties on Retrospective Notices For 2017–2020

During a recent meeting, the GST Council decided to waive interest and penalties on these types of retrospective notices for the years 2017 through 2020. It is anticipated that this ruling would offer substantial respite to companies that have been struggling with the monetary and administrative weight of these notifications.

This waiver is being offered to recognize the first teething problems that firms encountered with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and to encourage more cooperative tax compliance. The Council’s choice is interpreted as an additional attempt to foster confidence between the tax administration and the public.

According to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council eliminated interest and penalties on tax demand notifications for the years 2017 to 2020 during its 53rd meeting on June 22. Assesses must pay the tax by March 31, 2025.

During a news conference, Sitharaman stated, “The Council recommended waiving off the interest and penalty for cases that fall under section 73.”

She also mentioned that August will mark the next Council meeting.

The finance minister also gave the GST assesses the assurance that the government is aiming to make it easier for taxpayers to comply. Contrary to popular belief, she stated that the GST notifications issued by the Centre represent fewer than 2% of all currently registered taxpayers.

Just 1.96 percent of all current tax assesses have received GST notifications from the Centre as of December 31, 2024. The national GST has only sent tax notifications to 1,14,939 assesses, the speaker continued.

Major Updates from the 53rd GST Council Meeting

On June 22, Sitharaman convened a pre-budget conference including all state ministers earlier in the day. According to her, the states have requested a larger share of interest-free capital expenditure loans in the next Union Budget. FY25 had been allotted Rs 1.30 lakh crore in the interim budget.

Other essential conclusions from the 53rd GST Council meeting

Several noteworthy initiatives were unveiled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the 53rd GST Council meeting on Saturday, June 22, 2024.

State finance ministers attended the Sitharaman-chaired meeting, which was centered on tax changes, Aadhaar biometric integration, and exemptions for railway services. The main conclusions are as follows:

Modifications to GSTR-1

It will be permitted moving forward throughout the same tax period: The GST Council gave its approval to the creation of a new form, GSTR-1A, which will enable taxpayers to add or modify information from GSTR-1 of the current tax period or IFF for the first and second months of the quarter that was overlooked before submitting GSTR-3B.

GSTR-1 reporting for B2C supplies

The threshold of Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 1 lakh will be the new threshold for reporting Business-to-Consumers (B2C) interstate supplies invoice-wise in Table 5 of GSTR-1.

Revised GSTR-4 Due Date

Effective FY 2024–2025, an extension has been granted to the composition taxable individuals’ GSTR-4 reporting deadline, moving it from the current 30th of April to the 30th of June 2024.

TCS Rate Reduction

Under Section 52(1) of the CGST Act, Electronic Commerce Operators (ECOs) were required to collect Tax Collected at Source (TCS) at 1% (0.5% each under CGST and SGST/1% under IGST) on net taxable supply. Reducing this to 0.5% (0.25% under CGST, 0.25% under SGST/UTGST, and 0.5% under IGST) is advised.

Mandatory filing of GSTR-7

GSTR-7 is required to be filed, invoice-by-invoice, even in cases where no TDS is withheld. There is no late filing penalty for zero submission.

The application of GSTR-9/9A filing

Taxpayers having an annual revenue of up to Rs. 2 crores are excused from filing an annual return in GSTR-9/9A for the fiscal year 2023–2024.

Amendment to Section 16(4)

It may be determined that the deadline for claiming Input Tax Credit (ITC) for invoices or debit notes in any GSTR-3B filed up until November 30, 2021 (which applies to fiscal years 17–18, 18–19, 19–20, and 20–21) is November 30, 2021. This deadline will take effect retroactively on July 1, 2017.

Modification to CGST Rule 88B

If the GSTR-3B is filed beyond the deadline, the GST Council advises against charging interest on the amount that remains in the electronic cash ledger on that date and is debited during the filing of the relevant report.

New Section 128A

For demand letters issued under Section 73 of the CGST (applicable for fiscal years 17–18, 18–19, and 19–20) in circumstances that do not involve fraud, suppression, or misrepresentation, the GST Council has waived interest and penalties. It is applicable in situations where the taxpayer pays the notice’s whole amount by March 31, 2025.

Modifications to Sections 73 and 74

Both sections will provide a uniform deadline for the issuance of demand notifications and orders, without distinguishing between fraud and non-fraud situations. There would be an extension from 30 to 60 days for taxpayers to pay the required tax plus interest to qualify for the lower penalty.

Financial Limits for GST Appeals

The department is advised to file appeals before these judicial forums no more than Rs. 20 lakhs for the GST Appellate Tribunal, Rs. 1 crore for HC, and Rs. 2 crores for SC.

Changing Sections 107 and 112

The maximum pre-deposit amount for submitting an appeal before appellate bodies will now be Rs. 20 crores instead of Rs. 25 crores under SGST and Rs. 25 crores under CGST.

Additionally, the pre-deposit amount for appeals before the GST Appellate Tribunal has been lowered from 20% to 10%, with the maximum amount allowed under CGST and SGST being Rs. 50 crores and Rs. 20 crores, respectively.

Sunset Clause to Amend Sections 109 and 117

A sunset clause will be included for anti-profiteering cases that are still outstanding, and the CCI hearing panel will be replaced with the GSTAT primary bench. The GST Council has also suggested that any new applications about anti-profiteering be submitted by April 1, 2025, as the sunset date.

Appeal deadline

The GST Council suggested amending Section 112 to extend the appeals process by three months to the GST Appellate Tribunal. It will begin on a date that the government has not yet specified; given that August 5, 2024, is the deadline, it will probably be revealed by then.

New Section 11A

This provision permits the regularization of short levies or non-levy of GST in cases where customary commercial practices resulted in underpayment or nonpayment of tax.

Refunds for More IGST Paid

A system is being established to allow taxpayers to claim refunds for additional IGST paid owing to upward price revisions of goods after exports.

No IGST Refund in Some Cases

By amending Sections 16 and 54, IGST would not be reimbursed in cases where export duty is due. This holds whether taxes are paid or not for exports and supply to SEZ units or developers.

Biometric-based Aadhaar Authentication

Applicants who choose to use the biometric-based Aadhaar authentication process carried out at the GST Suvidha Kendra will gradually be made eligible for GST registration throughout the whole country.

DRC-03 Circular

A circular outlining a procedure for balancing any demand amount paid via DRC-03 with the amount required as a pre-deposit to file a GST appeal will be released.

Altering of Section 122(1B)

To make it clear that the criminal provision only applies to those e-commerce operators that are obligated to collect TCS under Section 52 and not to other e-commerce operators, the amendment will take effect retroactively on October 1, 2023.

Rationalization of prices for products and services

  • The GST Council has now suggested amending Section 9 of the CGST Act, 2017 to remove the provision allowing GST to be applied to extra-neutral alcohol used in the production of alcoholic beverages intended for human use.
  • Regardless of use, a uniform rate of 12% is advised for all milk cans (different materials). It is recommended that all carton boxes and cases of corrugated and non-corrugated paper boards have a uniform GST of 12% (assisting J&K’s apple producers).
  • Sprinklers of all kinds, including fire and water sprinklers, should draw 12%.
  • All solar cookers, single or dual energy source models included, will be subject to a 12% GST charge.
  • The selling of platform tickets, cloakrooms, and battery-operated vehicle services by Indian Railways to the public are excluded, as are intra-railway supplies.
  • Currently, providing hostel accommodations is not excluded if the service is provided outside of an educational institution. It is now exempt, just as it is at academic institutions.
  • Students and working professionals can receive relief up to a maximum of Rs. 20,000 per person per month if the service is given for a continuous 90-day period. This also applies to privately owned dormitories.
  • There was no discussion of taxing internet gambling or horse racing.
  • A GoM will be established to analyze the GST on fertilizers in detail.
  • This meeting did not address the issue of setting the GST rate on gasoline and petrol.
  • Corporate guarantee: GST will not be charged if the products or services are those for which the entire ITC is available.

Also Read:

FM Sitharaman Announces Pan-India Roll Out Of Biometric Authentication To Curb Fake Invoicing

Wrapping Up

Businesses should be relieved that the GST Council decided to eliminate interest and penalties on retroactive notifications for the years 2017 through 2020. It recognizes the first obstacles that companies must overcome and seeks to promote a more cooperative compliance atmosphere. 

It is crucial to concentrate on establishing a stable, predictable, and business-friendly tax environment as India continues to improve its GST regime. This will improve compliance while also advancing the nation’s general economic development and progress.


What precise decision has the GST Council made about retroactive notices?

For the years 2017 through 2020, the GST Council has opted to waive interest and penalties on retroactive notifications. The purpose of this action is to assist companies that struggled with compliance in the early years of the GST implementation.

What are retroactive notices in terms of GST?

Demands made by tax authorities about inconsistencies discovered during audits or evaluations of GST returns submitted for earlier periods are referred to as retrospective notifications. Interest and fines for the found errors are frequently included in these notifications.

For what reason did the GST Council choose to forego these fines and interest?

The ruling recognizes the challenges that companies encountered in the early stages of the GST implementation, including the high learning curve associated with compliance, frequent regulatory changes, and technical issues. The waiver seeks to lessen litigation while also easing the financial and administrative load on businesses.

For what periods is this waiver applicable?

Retrospective notifications sent between July 1, 2017, and December 31, 2020, are covered under the waiver. This covers any requests made in response to differences discovered in the GST returns submitted during this time frame.

To whom does this waiver benefit?

This waiver will apply to all firms that have received retroactive notices for the designated time. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are included in this, as they were significantly affected by the difficulties with compliance during the first few years of the GST.

What financial effects would this waiver have on businesses?

By removing the added financial burden of interest and penalties, the waiver will give companies considerable financial relief. This can enhance economic stability and cash flow, particularly for SMEs.

Does this imply that companies are exempt from paying the taxes listed in the notices?

No, companies still must pay the primary amount of tax that is owed, as stated in the retroactive letters. Only the interest and penalties related to these dues are waived.

How do businesses apply to have this waiver granted?

The GST authorities will specify the exact process for requesting the relief. To take advantage of the waiver, businesses usually must apply or make a statement to the GST administration.

What is the status of the current legal action concerning these retroactive notices?

Many continuing lawsuits may be settled out of court with the waiving of interest and penalties. Companies might decide to drop their appeals or reach a settlement, which will lighten the load on tax tribunals and courts.

Will similar waivers be taken into consideration in the future, or is this a one-time relief measure?

This waiver is a special kind of relief meant to alleviate the difficulties encountered when the GST was first put into effect. Future exemptions would be contingent upon the GST Council’s choices and the changing requirements of the tax system.

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Shraddha Vaviya Content Writer
With several years of experience, I am deeply passionate about writing and enjoy creating content on topics such as GST, tax and various finance-related subjects. My goal is to make complex financial matters understandable for readers by simplifying them.

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