For almost a month now, 15 officers and inspectors from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) department have been spending hours everyday helping traders, merchants and taxpayers make the leap to the new tax regime. Each officer, manning the GST helpdesks, attends to at least 10 cases a day, on an average.
In an attempt to smoothen the transition of companies into the new GST tax regime, the department has set up 42 GST facilitation centres across the state to help both new and existing taxpayers. Sales tax inspectors, who underwent a day-long training for this, are now busy at the helpdesks resolving the technical and procedural problems faced by traders.
Two such centres are functioning in Mumbai — one at Mazagaon and the other, comparatively larger one at Bandra. A team of 15, headed by Assistant Tax Commissioner Mahavir Pendhari, attend to an average 10 visitors per day at the Bandra GST Bhavan. At the nine helpdesks in Bandra, traders come with a host of queries — some technical, some on the portal and many on the new tax itself. “Majority of the visitors are small traders from suburban areas,” said Gunwant Gaikwad, Deputy GST Commissioner who looks after the centre at Bandra.
Mahendra Gawali, a tax inspector at a helpdesk, said: “These are usually small retailers and manufacturers who do not have a chartered accountant to consult and come to us with their queries.”
Queries pertain to the online registration process, required paperwork and technical glitches, like inability to upload digital signatures on the GST portal or PAN mismatch. The walls at these centres have boards with comprehensive lists of documents required for fresh GST registration. A scanner comes to the aid of the visitors.
The helpdesks have so far seen 364 visitors and helped 31 of them with PAN errors, 34 were having trouble uploading digital signatures and 42 had enrollment queries. In addition to the helpdesks, the GST department also resolves online queries in less than 48 hours.One can also reach out to the state tax department on 1800225900 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The work pressure has increased since July 1. Work hours stretch from 9 am to as late as 8 pm. “We usually work from 9 am to 6 pm but in case a dealer wants to come later, we attend to them and then leave by 8 pm,” said Samadhan Rupnar, another tax inspector.
Gaikwad said: “The main thrust for setting up these centres was the fact that there are 8,00,000 live taxpayers in Mumbai who became liable to migrate under the GST.”