New Delhi: The process of migration of more than 8 million taxpayers to the goods and services tax (GST) network kicked off on Tuesday, with the launch of a website, as the Centre and the states gear up for a transition to this singular tax reform from the next financial year.

The website—www.gst.gov.in—will enable taxpayers located across different states to update their information and other relevant documents as a first step towards obtaining a registration number under GST.

All traders will need a GST ID number—a 15-digit number based on their income tax Permanent Account Number (PAN)—to operate under GST, which is expected to come into effect on 1 April 2017.

The network, which forms the backbone of GST, is coordinating with state governments to update information on traders and issue them tax identification numbers (TIN).

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The phase wise migration process started with Puducherry and Sikkim on Tuesday and will go on till 31 January. Over the next couple of months, traders from other states will also be migrated to the GST network. Service tax assessees of the centre will be migrated in January. Though GSTN is encouraging taxpayers in a particular state to register within the days alloted to a state, the window is open till 31 January in case someone fails to do so.

All GST ID numbers will only be allocated once Parliament passes the supporting legislation for GST.

As per government estimates, there are around 6.5 million value-added tax assessees, 2.6 million service tax assessees and 400,000 million excise assessees.

However, because the annual revenue threshold under GST has been fixed at Rs20 lakh, some traders may go out of the tax net.

This is because, at present, the exemption threshold for service tax assessees is Rs10 lakh, for excise Rs1.5 crore, and it is between Rs5 lakh and Rs10 lakh for value added tax assessees.

The GST network has already collated basic information such as PAN and names from existing databases of the income tax department but needs more detailed data such as place of operation, nature of business and bank account details before it can issue a GST ID number to the traders.

The traders need to collect their enrolment details, including username and password, from existing state commercial tax authorities.

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They will need to provide the mobile number and email address of authorized signatory as all future correspondence from the GST portal will be sent on this registered mobile number and email address.

The traders will then need to log in and fill up essential data.

“The government seems to be on schedule for roll-out of the information technology infrastructure for GST by April 2017. The first step for migration of existing taxpayers to GST has been initiated today. It is important for businesses to collate all required details for GST migration at the earliest," said Pratik Jain, leader, indirect tax, at Pwc India.

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