Gujarat: E-Way Bill gets nod from traders, some claim evasion still prevails

They claim that e-Way Bill has, to a larger extent reduced tax evasion but also say that tax evasion still continues

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The E-Way Bill  –  the requirement under Goods and Services Tax (GST) to trace the last mile transportation of goods – that got rolled out a year ago, has got a thumbs up from traders and tax practitioners. They claim that e-Way Bill has, to a larger extent reduced tax evasion but also say that tax evasion still continues.

Monish Bhalla, founder – director of Taxolegal opined that e-Way Bill has shaped up quite well after initial hiccups. The sheer number of e-way bills generated in Gujarat is a testimony to the fact that businessmen have quickly adapted to the new regime. However, he pointed out that in some cases, the penalties are as high as 100 per cent and often penalties are levied without any merit. “Government should review the cases now, since it has lots of data points available. There should be more uniformity among the state in terms of operating the new check posts. The fact that suppliers, buyers and transporters have the option to generate e-Way Bill is often causing confusion as to who should generate it. Ideally, it is the suppliers who should generate it,” said Bhalla.

However, P D Vaghela, commissioner of Commercial Tax said that it is necessary to be strict to ensure that tax evasion is minimized. Of late administration has adopted a liberal approach in terms of penalties, where it is found that there was no intention to evade tax. “Self-regulation is the key to the successful rollout of e-Way Bill and GST. If that does not happen, the government will have to act strict,” said Vaghela. Gujarat constitutes nearly 20 per cent of all e-Way Bill generated in the country, second only to Maharashtra. Gujarat has exempted e-Way Bill for intra-city transport of goods and for job work in the textile sector.

The representatives of traders say that in spite of all the measures, tax evasion has still continued. However, they agree that evasion has reduced. “Honest businessmen are the losers if tax evasion continues,” said Hiren Gandhi, co-chairman of Food Committee of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI). Hiten Vasant, former national vice president of All India Motor Transport Congress said that slowly things are getting streamlined but authorities should be taken into account the fact that transporters are less literate and therefore they should not be subjected to heavy compliances. “One should also focus on increasing compliance in rural areas. If that happens, there will be a case to reduce tax rates,” said Vasant.

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