GST, Banks, and the problem of being a responsible citizen

I never write about taxes or related stuff. So why now? The reason—the strange problem I encountered while making GST payment.

Being conscientious citizens, my parents didn’t get into the debate about advantages, and disadvantages of GST. Instead they studied how GST would be applicable to them, and started incorporating it into their businesses. This was the root of the problem. Due to their zeal, when govt. announced that GSTR 3b form would be available from 5th and we can start making payments, we were among the first few who rushed in. The problem started when the banks refused to make payment via RTGS.

Let me explain.

There are three modes of GST payment:

  1. E-payment
  2. RTGS/NEFT
  3. OTC (Over the counter) through authorised banks

Since, my parents aren’t keen on internet banking, and you cannot choose the OTC option if the tax amount exceeds Rs. 10,000/-, we chose the second option. While generating challans, you can choose the name of the bank from which you want to make RTGS/NEFT from a drop down menu.

The govt. of India has authorised certain banks to accept GST payment. This pertains to the 3rd option—OTC payment. Only the authorised banks can accept payment over the counter. However, any bank can make GST payment through RTGS/NEFT. This option is equally available to the authorised, and the other banks.

The banks seem to have no idea of this option (at least the two banks we visited). When my mom presented the challan, and RTGS form to her bank, they refused to accept it. Their answer: “we aren’t authorised to accept GST payment.” So, they refused to do the RTGS transfer to govt. GST account. I had to spend the better part of the day explaining them that they can do RTGS, and the challan with bank’s name generated from GST site was not a mistake. At least, after they made some hundred calls to confirm this, they relented.

Now, comes my dad’s bank. They refused point blank to even talk about it. “We have nothing to do with GST” was their mantra. Just in case, you’re wondering, this isn’t some ploy of opposition to sabotage GST payments. This bank has big framed pictures of Dr. Hedgewar in their lobbies. I called their call centre, which was befuddled. So, I visited their headquarters, then they logged in their GST account to verify that—yes the option exists, and it works. Two days later, the bank started making transfers for the clients who requested this option.

Now, comes the strangest part. When the second bank seemed adamant in not making the RTGS payment, I called the Maharashtra GST call centre. The person who answered said, it is obligatory for the authorised bank to accept payment. I explained that due to the amount exceeding Rs. 10,000/- I didn’t choose OTC option. So, this isn’t about authorised banks. He was as confused as the banks. He had no idea I could make GST payment through banks other than authorised banks.

My parents are very old-fashioned. They have this weird idea that paying taxes, and all such stuff means you’re a true Indian. That is why I had to run through these banks, and their branches explaining them about GST payment options. I wish they were more in tune with the times. They have no idea that to be a true Indian, you have to yell “Bharat Mata ki Jai” once, or twice a day. And you’re set.

For those who are confused about how different is this RTGS/NEFT from any other, the banks usually make, it is NOT different at all. This is a regular RTGS, with GST as the account name, RBI, the beneficiary bank, and CPIN as the account no. So, the banks have to do nothing different from regular RTGS. I have no idea that why the banks acted as if it would have been an act of treason to make RTGS payment.

The only answer I can think of is that there has been a lot of hype about govt. authorising some banks to accept over the counter GST payment for convenience of the people, that most people took it for granted that these are the only banks concerned with GST payment, and missed the second option.

The first thing both the banks said, was “If this is a genuine method, how come you’re the only one who chose this method?” No, we weren’t the only one. Our misfortune—we were the first ones.

Just two days ago, my mom showed me a newspaper article chiding everyone because very few people have made GST payments as yet. They blamed this on the Indian tendency of waiting for the last day. I wonder how many of these people are waiting for their banks to call, and confirm that they are ready to make that RTGS.

Jai Hind 😀

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