Double whammy for service companies: Required to pay GST on defaults, bad debts : 04-06-2020

As customer defaults mount due to the Covid-19 crisis, Indian services companies have been dealt a twin blow: Of unpaid bills, and Goods and Services Tax (GST) liabilities on those incidents on non-payment.

Under the current GST framework, there is no provision to allow adjustments of GST paid on supplies for which recoveries are not made. Companies have to pay GST when they raise the invoice or generate the bill, which often is at least a month or two before the customer pays the money.

As companies struggle with cash flows, they have to pay GST out of their own pocket even when the customer has defaulted. So, companies are seeking relief.

“The absence of a provision for allowing adjustment of GST paid on supplies for which recoveries are not made (bad debts) is a double whammy for businesses,” said Abhishek Jain, Tax Partner, EY. “It leads to a loss on account of consideration for supply not being received, coupled with an outflow of GST from their own pocket. While this has been a concern for businesses historically, in the current economically depressed times, the government should consider relief on this aspect.”

Customer defaults have been on the rise due to the Covid-induced job losses, salary cuts, business closures, and a general breakdown in corporate payment cycles.

“Companies have to pay GST based on point of taxation and the tax payout precedes the receipt of consideration for the supply. Often, leads to a situation when the supplier ends up paying the tax for which consideration is either not received or received after significant delay, thereby causing great financial and working capital issues for several service sectors and MSMEs,” said Abhishek A Rastogi, partner at Khaitan & Co.

Once a services company, such as a telecom or credit card company, raises the invoice, it has to pay GST to the government.

For instance, a telecom company generates a bill of Rs 1,000 to a consumer in the month of February, and levies Rs 180 as GST on that. The tax is paid in March by the company. However, if the consumer refuses to pay or delays the payment, the company is stuck with the outgo of Rs 180 in taxes and Rs 1,000 in unrealized revenue.

Source : Financial Express