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Non-taxing GST apps to make filing income tax return less painful
October, 10th 2016

In a bid to give tax payers more choice to file their returns once the much-awaited tax reform is rolled out, the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) is inviting private companies to build third-party interfaces.

Open for technology, accounting and financial services firms, it will allow businesses to file taxes from various platforms such as mobile apps or portals instead of applying only through the GSTN portal. According to a top official of the agency, which is building the technology back-bone for the country's largest tax reform ever, the idea is to fuel "innovation" and have multiple solutions for different sectors such as FMCG or manufacturing since they may have different needs and also for corporations of different size.

"The approach is similar to what the income tax department follows. Individuals are free to file their returns from multiple sources," said the official. The person added that GSTN is inviting applications till October 15, post which an independent jury will select the companies that fit the bill. The companies will be given a month or so to build their applications.

The government has set a deadline of implementing the new taxation regime by April 1, 2017 and GSTN is hopeful of readying its technology systems before the deadline. The not-for-profit entity owned by the Centre, states and non-government financial institutions, has released the policy paper and the APIs for IT companies to develop applications which will enable taxpayers to upload invoices and file returns directly.

While India's second-largest software company Infosys has been assigned the mandate to develop and run the GSTN in a project worth Rs 1,380 crore, GSTN has held workshops for the industry to gauge their interest in developing apps and interfaces for the tax administration. Accounting software firms like SAP and Tally Solutions and several financial online portals have evinced interest in it so far.

Sumeet Sharma, vice-president and head — industries and value engineering at SAP India said, "SAP is working in close collaboration with its customers, across industries, to provide solutions for a smooth transition to GST. SAP is also working with GSTN in understanding the data flows and providing seamless connectivity from enterprise to GSTN."

The GSTN portal itself will be a one-stop destination for filing and processing of all taxes for almost 65 to 70 lakh taxpayers in the country and is being designed by a specialised design unit of Infosys.

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