Service tax, as the name suggests is a tax leviable on all duties. It is a tax levied on the transactions of the facility specified by the Central Government under the finance Act, 1994. It is an indirect tax (akin to Excise duty or Sales tax), which means the service provider pays the tax and recovers the amount from the recipient of the taxable work.
Service Tax is generally recovered by Assessee in two ways:
By utilizing the same as in the form of Cenvat Credit, or
By Claiming the Refund.
Any Assessee can utilize the amount of duty paid by him in excess by adjusting the same with the duty amount paid in subsequent period. Refund of tax can be claimed by Assessee where self- adjustment of Service Tax is not feasible.
Refund of Service Tax generally happens in case of export oriented companies (STPI, SEZ, EOU units) which export their final product/duty, as no tax is levied by Government to promote the export. Such companies disburse excise on the input/output assistance procured by them but are not able to utilize the Cenvat credit because no due is received by them on export of their services. As a result, such companies have to opt the procedure of claiming refund for unutilized cenvat (tax) credit.
The Export Oriented Units, especially the STPI units have been facing many hurdles and difficulties while claiming the service tax refunds. There had been inordinate delays towards the scrutiny of refund applications coupled with rejections of the claimed amounts due to various reasons by the designated authorities, primary reasons being:
Time Limitation for the refund claim of duties.
Relevant date for the calculation of limitation period in respect of filing the refund claim.
Implication of the Principle of Doctrine of Unjust Enrichment.
Submission of separate Foreign Exchange Remittance Certificate (FIRC) in case of segregated export of goods & utilities.
Submission of Original documents such as Invoice, BL, SB, BRC etc.
The Central Board of Excise & Customs is seized of this matter and has been regularly clarifying on this issue through various clarifications/Notifications covering many procedural issues with respect to refund of service tax paid. It has settled many issues like the time within which the refund claim shall be filed, acceptance of certified photocopies as a valid document, submission of self-certified statement along with FIRCs etc.
Despite various initiatives taken by the department, there has been a huge pendency of tax refunds primarily because of the incomplete documentation by the claimants, tedious process of physical verification of documents submitted to the department and the difference of perception between the claimant and the department regarding the admissibility of input services eligible for refund.
There are many specialized Service Tax Consultant in Delhi, NCR that helps companies in sorting out the problems they face related to tax. But it is always advisable to do some serious research before contacting a STPI Consultant in Delhi. Gaurav Verma