New Delhi, Nov 13 (PTI) The tax department has directed its field offices to reach out to businesses that have not filed returns under the GST but were paying taxes in the erstwhile service tax/VAT regime.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has shared the zone-wise data of businesses under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) with regional commissioners to handhold them in case they are facing difficulty while filing returns under the new indirect tax regime.

The CBEC is the apex decision making body for policies relating to indirect taxes.

About one crore businesses have registered themselves on the GST Network portal. Of this, about 72 lakh have migrated from the erstwhile excise, service tax and VAT regime.

“Field offices know which businesses used to file tax in the earlier regime. Now we have shared with them the initial GSTR-3B return data to match if anyone who is eligible for paying taxes in the new regime is left out,” an official said.

Under the GST, businesses with turnover of up to Rs 20 lakh are exempt. This threshold is higher than the earlier service tax or VAT.

“We would go easy on businesses as we have just switched to a new taxation system. However, there are traders and businesses who have registered under GST and have not filed returns. We have asked our field formations to get in touch with them to check if they need some handholding,” he added.

Out of the one crore registered businesses, 15 lakh businesses have opted for composition scheme and will file returns quarterly.

Of the remaining, 55.87 lakh businesses filed GSTR-3B returns in July, 51.37 lakh for August and over 42 lakh in September.

“A significant number of businesses who have not filed returns actually have nil tax liability. They might be thinking that they do not need to file returns because they do not have to pay tax. We need to handhold them towards filing returns,” the official said.

The GST Council, chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state counterparts, had last week cut penalty on account of delayed filing of returns from Rs 200 earlier.

Now businesses with nil tax liability will have to pay Rs 20 as penalty and rest Rs 50 for delayed filing of monthly returns.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.