Online Filing of Excise and Service Tax Compulsory from October 1st

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Sept. 23 – To establish the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2012-13, India’s Finance Ministry has made it compulsory for taxpayers to file their central excise and service tax returns electronically from October 1.

E-filing through the Center’s online tax compensation application ACES (Automation of Central Excise and Service Tax) will be a necessity not only for returns due after October 1, but also for returns of past periods which have not been filed yet, or are to be revised.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) stated that the returns would have to be filed electronically by all assessees, including export-oriented units, small-scale industries, or those availing of certain exemptions, irrespective of the duty paid by them in the preceding financial year.

The CBEC has also asked taxpayers to file other documents via the electronic method, such as the annual financial information statement and the yearly installed capacity statement. Steps are being taken to make the evolution to GST smooth. The finance ministry has set the next financial year as the target to bring in the indirect tax regime, which will subsume most of the taxes levied by the Center and the states on sale of goods and supply of services. The government wants to reinforce its information technology backbone before switching to GST.

The Indian government is designing a single portal for registration, filing returns and payment of taxes under GST. The system is known as GST-N will mechanically separate the data that needs to go to the state system. Payments will be done through RBI clearing accounts for states and the Center. A pilot project is being undertaken in 11 states. States are expected to move to this IT platform even before the introduction of GST.

The new podium would offer common PAN-based taxpayer identification, a common return, and a common challan for tax payment. This will have the capability of settlement of transaction across different taxes – value added tax, income tax and central excise – resulting in detecting tax evasion and plugging loopholes. In the meantime, the report of a task force on business processes relating to GST will be put in the public domain by the end of this month for discussion. The task force, set up to put together legislation on GST, has already submitted an interim report.

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