Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India has streamlined the taxation system by replacing multiple indirect taxes with a unified tax structure. In this context, Section 36 plays a crucial role in regulating the retention period of books of account or other records by registered persons. This article delves into the specifics of GST Section 36, shedding light on the duration for which businesses must maintain their financial records.

Retention Period for Books of Account:

As per GST Section 36, every registered person is mandated to keep and maintain books of account or other records in alignment with the provisions outlined in sub-section [1] of Section 35. The retention period for such records extends until seventy-two months from the due date of furnishing the annual return for the relevant year.

Exceptions to the Standard Retention Period:

However, there are exceptions outlined in the proviso of Section 36 that modify the standard retention period. If a registered person is involved in an appeal, revision, or any other legal proceedings before entities like Appellate Authority, Revisional Authority, Appellate Tribunal, or court, the retention period is extended.

In such cases, the registered person must retain the books of account and other records related to the subject matter of the appeal, revision, proceedings, or investigation for a period of one year after the final disposal of the appeal, revision, proceedings, or investigation. Alternatively, the person must adhere to the seventy-two months retention period specified earlier, choosing the longer duration.

Significance of the Extended Retention Period:

The rationale behind the extended retention period in legal proceedings is to ensure that relevant financial records are available for scrutiny during the course of any appeals, revisions, or investigations. This not only aids in maintaining transparency but also serves as a mechanism to address any discrepancies or concerns that may arise during the legal process.


GST Section 36 plays a pivotal role in governing the duration for which registered persons must retain their books of account and other records. The standard retention period of seventy-two months from the due date of the annual return is applicable, with exceptions outlined for those engaged in legal proceedings. This ensures that financial records remain accessible for examination, contributing to the overall integrity and effectiveness of the GST system. Businesses are advised to be mindful of these regulations to comply with GST provisions and avoid potential repercussions.

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Qualification: Student - CA/CS/CMA
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Member Since: 22 Apr 2020 | Total Posts: 4
Greetings, I am Mahesh Prajapati, a dedicated professional with a strong foundation in the field of finance and taxation. Currently residing in the vibrant city of Ahmedabad, I am on the threshold of completing my CA Final, a testament to my unwavering commitment to excellence in the realm of acc View Full Profile

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February 2024