FASTag provides information regarding the movement of a vehicle when it crosses/passes through a toll plaza. Tracing and tracking the vehicle has become easy through messages.
It is a rechargeable tag that facilitates the Toll Plazas to deduct the toll charges electronically from the e-wallet. FASTag is kind of a sticker affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle that can be detected using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) from a maximum distance of 25 meters at Toll Booths. (Note: If for some reason FASTag of the vehicle is not operational or functioning then you will have to shell out double charges.)
GST E Way Bill is to be generated for the movement of goods valuing more than Rs 50,000/- from one place to another. (Note: For intra-state movement of goods, different limits have been notified by States & Union Territories)
Statistics of E waybills
Based on the statistical data and information available of e way bill portals, numerous analytical reports are being generated that are assisting the GST officers in the detection of tax evasion which thereby enhances tax collection.
A press release was issued on 1st April 2021 which presented the 3-Years Statistics of e Way Bills like the total number of e way bills generated, the total number of vehicles used, the total number of consignors, consignees, transporters, the total number of verifications done by officers, etc.
FASTag integrated with E way Bill
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Indian Highways Management Company Ltd (IHMCL) and Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) for the integration of FASTag with the GST e-way bill system on 14th October 2019.
NHAI had made an arrangement of collecting the toll electronically on the National Highways of the country. FASTag was made mandatory at all Toll Plazas from 16th February 2021 across the country. FASTag enables tracking and tracing the movement of the vehicle.
What will change after the integration of FASTag with the E way bill?
Earlier transporters, consignors, and consignees were at the mercy of the drivers of the vehicle and had to rely on the information given by drivers and now they will be at mercy of the person whose mobile number is registered with the FASTag. As messages for deduction of toll charges from Toll Booths are sent only to the registered mobile number.
Practical problems that a transporter faces: At times drivers, vehicle owners do not disclose the correct information about the location of the vehicle, due to this, the vehicle doesn’t reach the destination in the validity period of e waybill and the window to extend the e way bill also expires.
In my opinion, after the integration, details of the movement for the vehicle carrying consignment should be made accessible to all the concerned parties i.e., transporter, consignor, and consignee. This will help the transporter to keep track of the movement of the vehicle and decide if the extension is required, this will help the consignee & consignor to make required arrangements for unloading the consignment within the validity period available for the same.
Integration of FASTag with E-way bill will enable the Revenue Authorities to track whether the vehicle carrying the consignment of goods is moving in accordance with the e waybill.
Fraudulent practice is prevalent in the market where multiple trips are made on one GST e waybill, fake e waybills are generated and the vehicle & consignment doesn’t practically move. Integration of FASTag with e way bill is likely to bring an end to this and circular trading.
Government is of the belief that the integration of FASTag with e way bill will aid in curbing tax evasion. Do note in the year 2018 E waybills were rolled out with a similar thought. Following are a few examples where the Government has resorted to tracking fraudsters/evaders through e way bill.
- Generation of e waybills will be blocked if GST returns were not furnished for a prescribed period. (link)
- HSN/SAC code is mandatory for the generation of e way bills even for cases where the declaration is not required for issuing a tax invoice or filing GST returns. (link)
- E-invoicing has been linked with e waybills. This indirectly links GST e waybills with the details being furnished in GST returns. (link)
Constant changes in GST Laws & GST Rules that are being made are making the law more stringent and it is becoming difficult & cumbersome to comply with it.
Tax evaders/fraudsters always take the advantage of the leeway available in the Law or Rules. They plan their activities in the most legally compliant manner leaving no trail behind that makes it nearly impossible to be caught easily. Generally, it is the honest taxpayer who becomes the victim of such stringent laws as they might end up making a clerical error, omits to record a transaction or a mistake due to a technical glitch or hovering due dates without having any intention of fraud.
While hearing a recent PIL, the Honourable Bench of the Supreme Court was of a similar opinion and commented
“The Parliament had aimed to give the GST a citizen-friendly tax structure. However, the purpose of the Act is lost by the manner in which it is enforced.”