Kerala is all set to launch electronic payment of Value Added Tax (VAT) on Tuesday.

As many as 1.30 lakh traders are expected to switch over to the e-payment system, which would both speed up the tax collection and reduce the difficulties currently being experienced by traders in paying their taxes. The State had switched over to electronic filing of tax returns beginning January 1 this year and the e-payment system is being introduced to take the tax reforms initiated by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government and its Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Isaac forward.

Initially, only traders holding the Tax Information Number (TIN) would be required to go in for e-payment. Around 25,000 to 30,000 traders, who fall into the category of presumptive tax payers with annual turnover not exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs, would be exempt from the scheme for the time being. The government had done the same when launching the e-filing system. According to Dr. Isaac, this is the next logical step now that the State has achieved cent per cent e-filing of returns.

P. Mara Pandiyan, principal secretary, taxes, told The Hindu here on Monday that the new system would make the tax collection system relatively fool-proof and ensure that the government gets the tax revenue without any time lag. Normally, the government gets the tax paid by a trader only about a fortnight after the actual payment is made. Under the present system, the trader would be able to make the payment online, get an electronic challan and also information on whether he has made the correct payment and whether he is eligible for any tax refund.

The Commercial Taxes Department has tied up with State Bank of India and State Bank of Travancore to facilitate e-payment of taxes and integrated its websites with that of the two banks. The website of the Commercial Taxes Department has been audited by STQC, a Government of India agency, to ensure its security. The departments has also provided for Verisign SSL Certification to ensure safety of the transactions. According to Mr. Mara Pandiyan, the department had subjected the system to several trials over the last few weeks to identify potential glitches and to ensure that the system is fool-proof.

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