As the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 continues, individuals and businesses have been hoping for the restoration of normalcy so that meeting compliance requirements, such as the filing of returns, can be done on time without incurring penalties or defaults.
While the government has extended the deadline to file returns for goods and services tax (GST) for March, April and May till June 30, 2020, those used to filing returns with the help of their financial managers or chartered accountants (CAs) now find themselves in a spot of bother, given the lack of one-to-one access to these entities and individuals.
This has led to an increase in the popularity of cloud-based and secure authorised intermediaries such as Bengaluru-based ClearTax, which has seen a significant increase in the adoption rate of their GST compliance platform during COVID-19, and after the subsequent lockdown announcements.
The GST Suvidha Provider said its retention rate on a month-on-month basis has been ‘industry-leading’ and sales have also seen a ‘phenomenal’ growth. Currently, it has about 1,500 enterprise customers using its platform to file GST returns.
The fintech company offers GST compliance solutions to large enterprises, MSMEs and SMEs, and has the complete suite of GST-related solutions ranging from e-invoicing, generating and reconciling e-way bills, filing GST returns and performing detailed purchase reconciliations.
“Businesses are increasingly looking for cloud-based solutions, which are secure and easy to manage, and our sign-ups have been going up. Our compliance software can be used anywhere, and can be used to collaborate with teams and clients,” explained Archit Gupta, Founder and CEO, ClearTax.
The company sees a rising trend of ‘filing taxes from home,’ especially in the wake of issues arising because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Due to the extensive lockdown, and with GST and income taxes being an essential part of running a business, compliance becomes mandatory. Therefore, businesses now want to use solutions that can make them fully digital so that they can pay their dues on time and be compliant,” Gupta said.
The company’s GST platform helps tax professionals and businesses ease the process of filing returns.
“Using ClearTax’s platform, a user can file their returns upto three times faster than other portals. For tax professionals, it eases the management of hundreds of their clients on a single portal where they can seamlessly collaborate with their clients and other enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) for GST returns preparations filing,” said Archit.
Their software enables a user to import and export data from multiple types of files such as Microsoft Excel, Tally and several other ERPs, eliminating the need to make manual data entries. Its dashboard helps in tracking the returns of multiple GSTINs (goods and services tax identification number) and input tax credits (ITC) in one place. The software also enables users to use and claim ITC as well.
The insights provided by their intelligent reports, and the possibility to reconcile millions of sales and purchase data is also very popular in the industry.
AWS – The Driving Force
But, one of the standout features for users to opt for ClearTax’s software, the company said, is the safety and security of this platform.
The company has been using AWS services right from the beginning and did not have any physical servers or data centres. And data security of the platform is the key.
“ClearTax’s architecture has evolved multiple times as we’ve grown as a company – and deep platform investments are needed to effectively leverage the capabilities of the cloud. You have to stop thinking in terms of individual, dedicated servers and start thinking in terms of dynamic, ever-changing systems. Every running server should be deployed in a fully automated manner, with automated policies for scaling up or down based on the current demand. You also need to define self-healing policies so any errors get resolved automatically,” said Ankit Solanki, CTO at ClearTax.
“When we were an early stage company, having access to world class infrastructure at a low cost was transformative. We can build on top of stable, reliable platforms and focus on solving our customer’s needs, and as a result, move that much faster”, felt Solanki.
“AWS provides us with multiple security-focussed tools that we leverage, but in the end, securing your platform is the company’s responsibility. You have to be paranoid, design your systems with the right principles in mind and proactively look at security instead of taking a reactive approach” added Solanki.
ClearTax is utilising many AWS services to achieve high availability for their workload and at the same time scaling it securely to cope with varying loads based on customer demand. For security, they are using network isolation techniques like VPC, private subnets and Security Groups. They have subscribed to AWS Shield Advanced for DDoS mitigation, and Guard Duty to protect their AWS accounts and workloads from malicious activity and unauthorised behaviour. ClearTax’s use of AWS WAF protects their web applications against common web exploits that may affect their availability, compromise security, or consume excessive resources. They also use multiple availability zones (Multi AZ) to make their application highly available, for example RDS MySQL, which is used in a Multi AZ mode to keep the database level Highly Available.
ClearTax, in the next five years, seeks to ramp up its product offerings and aims to build AI-enabled products that will help individuals and businesses make better financial choices, enabling it to further its mission of simplifying finances, taxes and cash flows for Indians.
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