Dr. Sanjiv Agarwal
While September is the month for filing Income Tax returns by business entities, in Service Tax, it is October of the year which keeps all services providers busy in filing their Service Tax returns for first six months ,i.e. April to September. The last date is 25th October of the year after which penalty is attracted which may go upto Rs. 20,000.
With change in Service Tax regime w.e.f. 1st July this year by introduction of negative list approach, there is a change in taxable services, accounting codes, valuation and exemptions. This calls for a change in the format of Service Tax returns also. Perhaps, keeping this in mind, the government has now decided to revise the format of Service Tax return (ST-3 Form) which is not yet released. Since the new format has not been made available even till today, the last date of filing Service Tax returns has been extended from 25th October to 25th November 2012.
Assessees may be aware that Service Tax returns are required to be filed for half year i.e., for April to September in October and for October to March in April following. Another major change is that the return which is now to be filed is required to be filed only for one quarter, i.e., April –June 2012. This is because from 1st July, 2012, law has changed and return for earlier period may be filed separately.
In effect, this time only quarterly return will be filed and for subsequent quarter, return will be required to be filed in different form which will be notified later.
Further, returns are now mandatorily required to be filed online. No paper returns can be filed. As such, new format of return is expected to be uploaded on the CBEC’s (Central Board of Excise & Customs) web-site soon after which assessees can file their return before 25th November, 2012.
In the current financial year, an assessee would have had to give data with reference to specific services and the corresponding legal provisions for the period 1st April to 30th June. The data for the period from 1st July to 30th September would have been respect to different services and the corresponding legal provisions. Combination of these provisions into one return would have made the return complex for the assessees. Hence this change.
With these changes, one cannot file the return now and shall have to wait for the new return format. In such a scenario, assessees will also be required to avail / utilize credit of tax or pay Service Tax only in relation to this quarter only.
Government is also toying with the idea of having a monthly return in case of specified categories of service providers. However, such a return could be a simple one page return.