Dr. Sanjiv Agarwal

The Finance Act, 2015 had brought two important changes in Service Tax –

(i)  Issue of electronic invoices and its authentication by Digital Signature [Rule 4C]

(ii)  Maintenance of records on Electronic Form [Rule 5(4)]

CBEC has now issued Notification No. 18/2015-Central Excise dated 06.07.2015 and a Circular No. 224/44/2014-CX dated 06.07.2015 to make the above rules operational implying that assessees can now use the benefit provided by Rule 4C and Rule 5(4).

The following guidelines are relevant –

A. Issuance of electronic invoice by using Digital Signature

(i) To use Class 2 or Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate duly issued by the Certifying Authority in India.

(ii) To intimate the following details to the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise, at least fifteen days in advance:-

· name of the person authorised to use the digital signature certificate
· e-mail id
· office address
· designation
·  name of the Certifying Authority

· 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


 (iii) For change in the aforesaid details, aforementioned information shall be submitted afresh   to the jurisdictional Deputy or Assistant Commissioner, within 15 days of such change.

(iv) If any assessee is already using Digital Signatures, then intimation is required within 15 days of the notification (i.e., 06.07.2015).

(v) For verification of invoice, the procedure has been prescribed in the circular.

B. Maintenance of records in electronic form  

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

a) 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.

b) To 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.

(ii) A Central Excise Officer, during an enquiry, investigation or audit,may direct any 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.

(iii) For verification of records, the procedure has been prescribed in the circular which may be referred.

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