E-invoicing/QR Code on invoices- Latest NN 05/2021 did. 8/3/2021 -The Specter of Notifications

Opening Remarks:

To the one who has tracked the E invoice and QR’s nascency and adolescence, cannot help be ‘sadly amused’  by the ironical twists and histrionics of the ‘Notification Apparition’.

The turn of events, as will be discussed in the following paras, would reveal what kind of a monster we have painted on the wall for us to worship. This law is far far far from being simple, and exceeds in complexity in many ways when compared with its predecessors.

We have oft seen how a ‘Notification is issued to notify a Notification’.

And also that a Notification is issued to amend or modify the Principal Notification, wording it in a way that for deciphering it, one may have to open 2-3 previous ones to make sense.

This is the legacy since the days of Excise law, which hasn’t been improved upon for unknown reasons.

Often too, a provision finds place in the principal statute, but doesn’t get notified (e.g. S. 50(1) proviso, or the entire S. 43A).

Anyways, we can at most discuss, be dismayed and then fall in line.

Mandatory E-invoicing was announced by the GST department in stages.

Brief Background:

1. The principal Section for invoicing is S. 31 of CGST Act, 2017.

2. The subordinating Rules for S. 31 (i.e. Rules detailing the procedures for making Tax invoices, Credit Notes, Debit Notes, Bill of Supply etc.) are enumerated under Chapter VI of the CGST Rules, running from R.46 thru R.55A.

3. These set of Rules tell us the manner and form of various devices to be issued by a Supplier of Goods and Services.

4. Out of these Rules under Chapter VI of CGST Rules,2017, the main Rules concerning E-invoicing are R.48(4), (5) and (6).

The QR Story:-

The story started for QR code as early as 28/June/2019, when for the first time, ‘QR’ found a mention in the Rule 46, as its 6th proviso. (NN 31/2019-CT). Interestingly, notification 31/2019 had Rule no. 5 pertaining to QR code on tax invoices, but “wasn’t notified within that notification.

This provision of QR code was then notified (w.e.f. 1/Apr/2020) vide NN 71/2019-CT on 13/Dec/2019.

Hence demonstrated the quip of “A Notification to notify a Notification”!

B2B and B2C provisions

Below is the classification of several provisions into two buckets viz. B2B provisions followed by the B2C provisions released as at the date of publishing of this article.

Catalogue 1– B2B Notifications:

Notification No. Date of issue: w.e.f. Concerning Eligibility/ by whom to be complied
70/2019-CT

(B2B Invoicing)

13/Dec/2019 :

w.e.f. 01/April/2020

B2B invoices, E invoicing of “All” Businesses having turn over exceeding Rs. 100 Cr. in a financial year
13/2020- CT

(B2B Invoicing)

Further amended by NN 05/2021 dtd 08 March 2021

21/March/2020 :

w.e.f. 01/Oct/2020

08/March/2021

Wef 01/04/2021

Amendment of Notification 70/2019-CT, as listed above, by following actions:

1. Excluding persons listed in:

a) R. 54(2)-Insurance Co, FI’s, Banks, NBFC’s.

b) R. 54(3)- GTA

c) R.54(4)- passenger transport

d) R.54(4A)- ‘Multiplex’ (Not single screen!)

And

2. Excluding OIDAR as given u/s 14, IGST Act, 2017 for B2C invoices only.

 

“Not All” businesses, but excluding some (i.e. Rule 54(2),(3),(4) and (4A)), and having Agg. turnover greater than Rs. 100 Cr., in a Financial Year.

The Agg. Turnover criterion is further amended by NN 05/2021, and the Agg. Turnover is Rs. 50 Cr. In a F Yr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catalogue 2: B2C Invoices

Notification No. Date of issue : w.e.f. Concerning Eligibility/ by whom to be complied
14/2020-CT 21/March/2020 :

w.e.f 1/Oct/2020

 

B2C Invoices to have Dynamic QR Code “Not All” businesses, but excluding some (i.e. Rule 54(2),(3),(4) and (4A)),

and

having Agg. turnover greater than Rs. 500 Cr., “in a Financial Year”.

71/2020 30/Sept/2020 :

w.e.f 1/Dec/2020

Amends NN 14/2020-CT listed above “in a Financial Year” replaced with “in any F.Yr. from 2017-18 onwards”.

Inferences drawn from above cataloging: –

1. Aggregate Turnover Criterion:-

It is to be noted that:

a) for B2B invoices, Turnover > Rs.100 Cr. (now Rs. 50 Cr. Vide NN 05/2021 dtd 08/03/2021) is to be checked for “a F.Yr

while

b) for B2C invoices, Turnover > Rs. 500 Cr. is to be checked for “any F.yr. from 2017-18 onwards”.

So we again need a Notification for a Notification to clarify what “a Financial Year” means in the context of NN 13/2020 !

2. Some entities are excluded from issuing B2C invoices with QR code. Interestingly, Rule 54(4A) states that only Multiplex needs to issue an electronic invoice, while Single screens can issue electronic invoices on voluntary basis only.

Now when we exclude the entire Rule 54(4A), by the vice of double negative, only Multiplex Businesses get excluded. Question may be raised for Single Screen Cinema Halls therefore as to whether they now fall in the ambit of QR code, while Multiplexes are exempted.

The same anomaly is seen in the Clarificatory circular no. 146/02/2021-GST dated 23/Feb/2021, clause no.1, which excludes only Multiplexes from issuing Invoices with QR codes.

This happens when double negative is not handled carefully by the Draughtsman!

Circular No. 146/02/2021 – dated 23/Feb/2020– For B2C invoices only- “QR Code”:-

Q. What is the Plausible Rationale behind B2C Dynamic QR codes?

A. If we read the Circular carefully, it is a summation of all above B2C Notifications. It excludes certain businesses, including B2C by OIDAR (with the anomaly that crept up for Single Screen Cinemas), and gives a pre-test of greater than Rs. 500 Cr. Agg. Turnover, in any year since 2017-18 (this pre-test being for B2C invoices only and not for B2B. For B2B invoices, the eligibility test is to check if Agg. Turnover exceeds Rs. 50 Cr “in a Financial Year”, as detailed hereinabove).

It seems that the rationale for QR on B2C was to curb illegal suppression of B2C transactions now, as B2B invoicing had already seemingly been controlled vide E-way bills and IRN numbers.

But a retail customer may not always opt for the displayed Dynamic QR, and is free to use other Static modes for making payment.

He may even skip everything and make a cash payment, without bothering for either the Dynamic or the Static QR’s made available to him by the retailer.

Question then remains as to how a mere “cross reference of the mode of payment” on the retail B2C invoice solve the quandary of suppression of sales? As the retailer is again free to suppress his cash sales and might destroy the cashed invoice after the customer leaves. So the issue remains unchecked.

Also, if the payment is made using the non-cash mode, there’s no need to build redundancy vide a QR, as the payment is made from a Bank to a Bank, which is already traceable.

This needs further supplementing, which may already be on cards of the government! Lets see…!

*****

Disclaimer: The view above are author’s only and professional discretion is warranted before acting upon such advice/opinion.

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