The assesses can electronically file statutory returns of Central Excise and Service Tax by choosing one of the two facilities being offered by the department at present: (a) they can file it on-line, or (b) download the off-line return utilities which can be filled-in off-line and uploaded to the system through the internet.
(a) Steps for preparing and filing returns
(i) Returns can be prepared and filed on line by selecting the ‘File Return’ option under RET module after logging into the ACES.
(ii) All validations are thrown up during the preparation of the return in this mode and the status of the return filed using the on-line mode is instantaneously shown by ACES.
(iii) Returns can also be prepared and filed off-line. Assessee downloads the Off-line return preparation utility available at http://www.aces.gov.in (Under Download)
(iv) Prepares the return off-line using this utility. The return preparation utility contains preliminary validations which are thrown up by the utility from time to time.
(v) Assessee logs in using the User ID and password.
(vi) Selects RET from the main menu and uploads the return. Instructions for using the off-line utilities are given in detail in the Help section, under ‘Download’ link and assessees are advised to follow them.
(vii) Returns uploaded through this procedure are validated by the ACES before acceptance into the system which may take up to one business day. Assessee can track the status of the return by selecting the appropriate option in the RET sub-menu. The status will appear as “uploaded” meaning under process by ACES, “Filed” meaning successfully accepted by the system or “Rejected” meaning the ACES has rejected the return due to validation error. The rejected returns can be resubmitted after corrections.
(viii) Once the Central Excise returns are filed on-line in ACES or uploaded to the system using the off-line utility, the same cannot be modified or cancelled by the assessee. The Service Tax returns, however, can be modified once as per rules up to 90 days from the date of filing the initial return.
(ix) Self-assessed CE returns, after scrutiny by the competent officer, may result into modification. Both the ‘Original’ and the ‘Reviewed’ return can be viewed by the assessee on-line.
(b) Template Upload for Dealer Return
In order to make the e-filing of dealer return easy, particularly when some dealers have to enter huge data, a facility has been provided in the on-line version of the dealer return to use a template in excel format, which they can download, fill and upload by using “upload XLS functionality” in the return. After validating the data, the system will populate it in the return in the relevant sections.
(c) Using XML Schema for filing Central Excise Return (ER 1) and Dealer Return
Currently, the ACES Application allows on-line filing of Quarterly Returns by the Registered Dealers accessing the site www.aces.gov.in by using the excel utility. Some assessees who use their own software application in their offices find the process of manual entry of data in the excel format of Returns as a time consuming and avoidable exercise. A new feature of XML schema has been introduced. Using the schema, assessees, after making necessary modifications in their own software application, can generate their returns from their application. Below mentioned steps elaborate the process to prepare, validate and upload the Dealer’s Return.
Steps to prepare the XML
Step 1: ACES application accepts the return in XML format. Prepare the Dealer return XML and validate it against the schema ACES_DLR.xsd provided.
Step 2: Login to the ACES application and upload the XML for processing. XML will be again validated against same XSD again before processing.
XML File only will be considered valid if it satisfies the requirements of the schema (predefined XSD) with which it has been associated. These requirements typically include such constraints as:
Elements and attributes that must/may be included, and their permitted structure. The structure as specified by regular expression syntax Similar facilities are available for ER 1 returns.
Instructions for using the schema are given in detail in the Help section, under “Download” link. Assessees are advised to follow them.
(d) Filing of Returns and other documents through the ACES Certified Facilitation Centres (CFCs)
CBEC has entered into MOUs with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI) and the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) for setting up ACES Certified Facilitation Centres (CFCs) Based on this, several CFCs have been set up across India, details of which are available under the CFC link in ACES website (http://aces.gov.in/ CFC.jsp). These CFCs provide a host of services to the assessees such as digitization of paper documents like returns etc. and uploading the same to ACES on payment of charges, upper limit of which has been prescribed in the MOUs and available in the website, mentioned above. For this purpose, assessees are required to write to the department authorizing one of the CFCs, from the approved list, to work in ACES on their behalf. They have to furnish the name and other details of the CFCs, including the registration No. issued by the ICAI/ICWAI etc. At any given time, one assessee can authorize one CFC, while one CFC can provide services to more than one assessee throughout India. In case the assessee wants to withdraw the authorization, it can do so by intimating the department. However, an assessee will be held liable for all actions of omission or commission of the CFC, during the period they are authorized by him/her to work in ACES.
(e) Validation of the entries made while filling return
1. At the time of making entry in the electronic format of the relevant return, the software does some preliminary validation for ensuring correctness of data, either concurrently or at the time of saving/submitting the return. This validation process is automated. The user is prompted by the application software to correct the particulars entered wherever required. In respect of certain entries, although the application alerts the assessee about any entry found erroneous or inconsistent, as per the automated validation process, the assessee is still allowed to proceed further to complete data entry of the return and finally submit it electronically. But in some cases the assessees are not allowed to proceed further unless the error indicated is corrected.
2. A return filed electronically is subject to automatic verification process by the application and defective returns are marked to the departmental officer for review and correction. While reviewing the return the officer may seek some clarification from the assessee, call for some information, records or documents which should be furnished by the assessee. In case of review and correction of returns by the departmental officers, assessees will receive a message from the application and they can log into the application to view the reviewed returns on-line.
3. Returns, captured off-line using the Downloadable utility and uploaded later on, are further subjected to certain validation checks. Processing of uploaded returns, using the off-line versions, is done at the end of one business day and the status can be viewed by the assessees under the “VIEW STATUS” link under “RET” module. Status is described as “UPLOADED”, “FILED” or “REJECTED” and they denote as follows:
√ UPLOADED denotes that return is uploaded and under processing (assessees are advised to view the status after the end of a business day).
√ FILED denotes that uploaded return is accepted by system.
√ REJECTED denotes that return is rejected due to errors. (The assessees are required to correct the return and upload it again.)
4. There is no provision in ACES application to allow assessees to make corrections in the Central Excise returns filed by them. Once the return is accepted by the system as successfully “filed”, no modification can be made by the assessee. However, if the return is rejected, the assessee can correct the errors and upload it again. The assessees are, therefore, advised to take utmost care while filing the returns. However, in case of Service tax, the assessee can revise the return within a period of 90 days from the, date of filing their original return.
(f) Acknowledgement of E-Filing of the return
In the case of a Central Excise or Service Tax return filed on-line, ACES application software acknowledges it by displaying an Acknowledgement message. A unique document reference number is generated which consists of a 15-digit registration number of the assessee, name of the return filed, the period for which return is filed etc. This is also automatically communicated to the email ID of the assessee by the application. In the case of an uploaded Central Excise return, using off-line utility, similar acknowledgement is generated and sent after the acceptance of the return by the system as a valid return i.e. when the status changes to “FILED”.
(g) Class of Assessees for whom e-filing of returns is mandatory with effect from 1st October, 2011:
1. In terms of Notification Nos. 21 & 22/2011-Central Excise (N.T.), dated the 14-9-2011, all Central Excise assessees are mandatorily required to electronically file returns namely ER 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, and 8. Similarly, in terms of Notification No. 43/2011- Service Tax, dated 25-8-2011 all the Service Tax assessees are required to electronically file ST 3 returns mandatorily.
2. The earlier facility of e-filing on the website (http://exciseandservicetax.nic.in), as provided in the CBEC Circular No. 791/24/2004-CX., dated 1-6-2004 is no more available and the assessees are required to file their returns on-line or by uploading the downloadable off-line return utilities to the new ACES website (http://www.aces.gov.in). Data structure for writing programmes to cull out the required return data (currently available for ER 1, ER 2 and Dealer return) from the assessee’s computers in XML format has also been provided. For complete details and instructions, assessees can visit the aforesaid website. Assessees who are required to or opted to file returns electronically but are unable to file electronically, for any technical difficulty in filing the returns, on account of difficulties at the department’s end viz. server/application is down or due to some defect in the software, should submit a soft copy of their return in CD along with a hard copy of the return prepared using the latest version of the off-line utility and duly signed by the authorized person. This facility will be available only on the last day on which the return is to be filed. If the last day is a holiday then it can be submitted on the next working day. However, if the difficulty is on account of any defect on assessee’s end, this facility will not be available to the assessees.