Thursday, July 9, 2015

Digitally Signing of Invoices Service Tax and Excise

In today's era of digitization, more and more Small and Medium Enterprises are moving Online. There are more use of Computers, internet, ERP Softwares, Online Billing etc. than it was before. Businessmen are using all sorts of new technologies which will save their time and efforts, one of such technology is of Online Invoice printing and signing. Many of the software provider are  providing these facilities and it saves a lot of time especially of those enterprises where there are more than hundreds of billing everyday. Use of Digital signature is gaining a lot of popularity and as the people are getting educated about the advantages of the system, they are getting inclined towards it.

 Digital signature certificates comes in 3 classes i.e. Class I, Class II and Class III. The Information Technology Act has made the DSC signing at par with manual signing. Income Tax, Sales Tax, Company Law, all are making Digital Signing mandatory and so the Central Board of Excise and customs. Central Board of Excise and Customs with its latest Notification No. No.  18/2015-Central Excise (N.T.) has issued procedure and safeguards to be followed if the Tax payer wants to issue invoices in Digital form with Digital Signature.

Now a Taxpayer can Digitally sign the Invoices issued to there clients and customers. The salient features and procedure for getting the assesse power of Digital Signing is given below:

1.DSC of Class 2 and Class 3 can be tiused by the assessee to sign the invoices. The DSC should be issued by Certifying authority.

Service Tax

2.(i) Every assessee proposing to use digital signatures shall intimate the following details to the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise, at least fifteen days in advance:-
a)    name, e-mail id, office address and designation of the person authorized to use the digital signature certificate;
b)   name of the Certifying Authority;
c)    date of issue of digital certificate and validity of the digital signature with a copy of the certificate issued by the Certifying Authority along with the complete address of the said Authority:
Provided that in case of any change in the details submitted to the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner, complete details shall be submitted afresh within fifteen days of such change. 

(ii) Assessee already using Digital Signature should intimate the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise within 15 days of the notification.

3.  Every assessee who opts to maintain records in electronic form and who has more than one factory or service tax registration shall maintain separate electronic records for each factory or each service tax registration.

4. Every assessee who opts to maintain records in electronic form, shall on request by a Central Excise Officer, produce the specified records in electronic form and invoices through e-mail or on a specified storage device in an electronically readable format for verification of the authenticity of the document and the request for such records and invoices shall be specified in the letter or e-mail by the Central Excise Officer.

5. A Central Excise Officer, during an enquiry, investigation or audit, in accordance with the provisions of section 14 of the Central Excise Act, 1944 and as made applicable to Service Tax as per the provisions contained in section 83 of the Finance Act, 1994, may direct an assessee to furnish printouts of the records in electronic form and invoices and may resume printouts of such records and invoices after verifying the correctness of the same in electronic format; and after the print outs of such records in electronic form have been signed by the assessee or any other person authorised by the assessee in this regard, if so requested by such Central Excise Officer.

6.  Every assessee who opts to maintain records in electronic form shall ensure that appropriate backup of records in electronic form is maintained and preserved for a period of 5 years immediately after the financial year to which such records pertain.

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