The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has made it mandatory for assessees who have paid Rs 10 lakh or more as service tax for 2008-09 to file returns electronically through internet banking from this year.
Notifications issued by the government also specify the same for central excise duty paid to mandatorily file returns electronically. In both cases, Rs 10 lakh or more include the amount paid by utilisation of Cenvat credit.
While returns for central excise cannot be revised once filed, contents of service tax could be amended once within 90 days of filing returns.
Besides, CBEC has automated almost an entire range of services in indirect tax. For electronic filing, it has devised new software called Automation of Central Excise and Service Tax (ACES) with connectivity in 104 commissionerates. It could be used for electronic filing of central excise and service tax from April 1.
Under ACES, several processes of central excise and service tax payments have been automated. These include registration of assessees, refunds, filing of returns, accounting, disputes resolution, audit, provisional assessment, exports, claims, intimations and permission to assessees. Officials said such automation will not only reduce physical interface and save time both for the department and the assessee, but also facilitate online tracking of the status of the selected documents, online viewing and internal messaging.
CBEC soon proposes to set up ACES certified facilitation centres (CFCs) with the help of professional bodies like Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India, etc. These CFCs will provide a host of services such as digitisation of paper documents like returns and uploading the same to ACES. The assessees will, however, have to pay for such services. CBEC will approve the maximum rates at which CFCs can charge their customers.
In order to avail of such services, the assessees can choose one of the CFCs approved by the department to act on its behalf. However, it has been clarified that an assessee will be held liable for all actions of CFCs during the period they are authorised to work in ACES.