After 60% of the taxpayers in Jammu and Kashmir were unable to file their Goods and Services Tax (GST) due to the continuing internet blockade since August, the central government has decided to open internet kiosks to facilitate the filing of returns.
The government on Tuesday ordered the Deputy Commissioners of the newly formed Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to “facilitate” the taxpayers in their offices on the “20th of this month with necessary safeguards”.
Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir remain snapped since August 5, when the central government revoked the strife-torn region of its special status under Article 370 and bifurcated it into Union Territories. The taxpayers have been fuming over the unavailability of internet to file their returns.
The government in September extended by a month the last date for filing of GST returns.
“In the absence of internet connectivity in the Union Territory, the taxpayers have not been able to file the GST returns, particularly GSTR 3B, on time since August 2019,” an order by the Jammu and Kashmir Finance Department issued on Tuesday read.
Despite the extension of the deadline to pay taxes, the order issued by the Under Secretary to the Government Finance Department said that “the returns filed during this period has been abysmally low”.
“Only around 40% returns due for this period have been filed so far,” it mentioned.
The deadline extension has also led to a “blockade of revenues” in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Given the continuous extension in the date of filing of the returns has led to blockade of revenues (both cash and IGST settlement), there has been considerable dip in the revenue collections for the past three months,” it said.
Since most taxpayers have been unable to pay taxes from July, the finance department has directed the Deputy Commissioners to open internet kiosks for “at least 10 days”.
While taxpayers have welcomed this move, they said the government’s move is an “unstable solution” coming too late.
“We welcome this step. It will bring some relief to us,” said a trader in Srinagar. He, however, said this not a “stable solution”.
Taxpayers have been demanding the restoration of the internet services.
“Now we will have to visit the DC office to file our tax returns. We can’t wait in long queues, the government should rather restore the internet services,” a taxpayer told News18 on condition of anonymity.
Due to the internet shutdown, the business community has suffered loss worth millions of rupees.