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10 Jul 2015

Guidelines for use of Digitally signed invoices/records in Central Excise and Service Tax

Finance Budget, 2015 has provided facility to issue digitally signed invoices by inserting Rule 4(C) in Service Tax Rules, 1994 along with the option for maintenance of records in electronic form and their authentication by means of digital signatures. However, conditions for issuing digital signed invoices and option of maintaining of records in electronic form was not in the line till now.

The neoteric, Notification No. 18/2015- Central Excise (N.T.), dated 6 July, 2015, in pursuance of sub-rule (2) of Rule 4(C) of the Service Tax Rules, 1994 made under sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) of Section 94 of the Finance Act, 1994, now specifies conditions, safeguard and procedures for issuing of invoices, preserving records in electronic form and authentication of records and invoices by digital signatures.

As per the notification, for issuing digital signature invoices and maintaining records in electronic form the following condition shall be complied, namely;-

  1. Every assesse proposing to use digital signature shall use Class 2 or Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate duly issued by the Certifying Authority in India.

  2. Every assesse proposing to use digital signatures shall intimate specified details to the Jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner of Central Excise.

  3. Every assesse already using digital signature shall intimate to the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise within 15 days of issue of this notification.

  4. Every assesse who opts to maintain records in electronic form and who has more than one factory or service tax registration shall maintain separate electronic records for each factory of each service tax registration

  5. Every assesse who opts to maintain records in electronic form shall 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.