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Input Credit

Penalties for Fake Invoices

by Sanjeev Archak Sanjeev Archak No Comments

Ever since the introduction of GST, input credit has become a focus point for most tax payers. GST was supposed to have automated the process claiming credit. However, this facility has not seen light of the day. Further, confounding the problems is the recent ruling imposing input credit restrictions. In October last year GST department mandated that  a tax payer will be able to claim only 10% of input credit if the vendor has not filed his returns. The Government was forced to bring in this rule as only a handful tax payers were filing GST 1 returns. Another major problem the Government is battling is that of fake GST invoices. In order to combat this problem the Government has announced penalties for using fake invoices. This penalty will be applied to both persons accepting & making the fake invoices.

Recent Budget Amendments

The Budget presented by the Finance Minister earlier this month has introduced a new Section called Section 271AAD in the Income Tax Act. This Section provides for penalty for:

  1. A false entry in the books of accounts
  2. Omitting entries in the books of accounts which are required to compute total income with an intention to evade tax

It is important to note that these penalties will be applicable from 01.04.2020. The Assessing Officer (the Income tax officer examining books & returns) is empowered to direct the tax payer to pay this penalty if he finds there are fake entries or omissions in the books of accounts.

What is the quantum of penalty?

The penalty shall be equal to the aggregate amount of such false entry or omitted entry.

What is a false entry?

False entry has been defined to include the use or intention to use:

  1. A false or forged document such as a false invoice or in general a false piece of documentary evidence
  2. An invoice for supply of goods or services where the actual goods or service has not been delivered
  3. Invoice from or to a person who does not exist

The definition is wide ranging one which includes even the “intention to use” and further it goes to include not just invoices but all other documentary evidence. This could include balance confirmations from vendors/customers or any other correspondence with business associates.

Who shall be liable to pay penalty?

The penalty shall be levied not only on the person using the false entry but also on the person providing such false entry.

This amendment has far reaching consequences. The Government has now synced both Income Tax and GST data bases so that there real time information sharing. If a tax payer gets found out for a false entry in an Income Tax proceeding, it is safe to assume that, he will be sent a notice under the GST law as well.

Suitable changes have been made to Section 122 & Section 132 of the IGST Act, which deal with penalties for improper invoicing and frauds. Apart from monetary fines, GST registration can also be cancelled by the authorities.

So every business owner needs to be vigilant and not indulge in unethical or fraudulent business practices. It is evident that penalties for fake invoices will be steep.

GST Changes: Input Credit Restriction

by Sanjeev Archak Sanjeev Archak No Comments

Another set of changes to GST law has been announced on 20.10.2019. This time the GST Council has decided to restrict the input credit available to tax payers. Consequently, input credit  in respect of invoices/ debit notes not uploaded by suppliers (i.e. not appearing in form GSTR-2A) cannot be availed in excess of 20% of the eligible ITC pertaining to invoices / debit notes uploaded by the suppliers. This input credit restriction is explained as an illustration below:

Particulars Actual ITC Eligible ITC after amendment
Input credit for Oct                       1000  
Input credit appearing in GST 2A 600  Rs 600 is available as credit
Input credit not appearing in GST 2A 400 Rs 120 (600*20%) or Rs 400 whichever is lower i.e, Rs 120 is available as credit
Total GST Input Credit   Rs 720

This amendment will create multiple problems for tax payers and tax professionals.Starting October 2019, all tax payers will have to reconcile the input credit as per books of accounts and GST 2A. Further, the differences between the two will have to be communicated to the vendors. This is essential to avail input credits.

How will this impact quarterly return filers?

As per the GST law, tax payers with an annual turnover of less than 1.5 crores have the option of filing GST 1 returns quarterly. If you are business filing monthly GST returns and your supplier is filing quarterly returns, then there is bound to be a input credit mismatch. This will lead to a situation where large businesses will stop buying from small vendors. 

How will the GST portal identify ineligible credits?

All manner of GST credits are reflected in the GST 2A. The GST portal does not have any facility to distinguish between credits which can and cannot be availed. This being the case using GST 2A as measure to avail input credit is not a good idea.

Is a return matching tool available to tax payers?

The new return structure is supposed to include a matching tool. However, the launch of this tool has been put off till April 2020. The absence of this tool means that tax payers will have to invest in resources and systems to do the reconciliation. Further, there is a time constraint as GST returns have to filed on the 11th and 20th of the month. Setting aside weekly off days and one day for tax payment, the tax payers have a small time window to match GST credits, reverse ineligible credits, re-avail reversed credits and compute tax payable.

How will this impact compliance costs? 

The GST has already increased compliance costs due to complicated returns schema and multitude of returns. GST law has been amended countless times since inception. Huge number of clarifications/notifications/ circulars have been released making matters even more complex. Further, this amendment also burdens tax professionals with more work prior to filing returns. This is bound to push up compliance costs.

Final Thoughts

The Government has not thought through this idea before implementation. There are basic errors in this idea which have not been addressed. Moreover, this idea does not address month end movement of goods i.e goods/services provided at the month end with invoices being raised,such goods/services received in the next month. There is bound to be input credit difference in this case as well. 

A business owner will now have to chase all his vendors for input credits. Are business owners supposed to run business or worry about paper work? Chasing vendors will take up a huge resources and effort. Entrepreneurs are supposed to create jobs and fuel the economy. They are not be burdened with compliance clutter. These amendments to the GST are law are wholly unnecessary.