After finalising the goods and services tax (GST) rates with the consensus of all the States, the central government has taken on another equally challenging task: to train nearly two million officers to handle the new tax mechanism.
The central government has roped in senior tax experts from the industry and from the government mechanism to train about 1.8 million tax officers across the country in four phases in line with their ranks, and training sessions are being carried out in various cities since September, a senior tax official said.
Besides familiarising tax officers -who until now were only familiar with several indirect taxes -with the new framework, the government has to train them on the nitty-gritty of implementing GST.This, industry insiders said, could pose some problems.
“GST is not just a tax, it’s a new framework where everything would change,“ said the tax official quoted earlier. “Officers, especially the junior ones, are used to dealing with current system. They ha ve to be not just trained but also hand-held for some time initially .“
Industry insiders said it is essential that tax officers, who would be responsible to not just understand but also implement GST, understand how the complex web of GST works.
“The new rules around GST would mean that tax officers have to not only learn the current regulations and taxpayer-friendly approach but also unlearn what they were practicing thus far to effectively implement GST and the adopt the concept of e-enabled tax administration,“ said Sachin Menon, head of indirect tax at KPMG.
“Also in some way GST would reorganise the structure of the tax department so that GST is implemented smoothly and the efforts of state and central GST officers are not duplicated in assessment, audit and adjudication proceedings,“ said Menon who is also a former IAS officer with the revenue department.