CBEC won’t stall GST refunds to exporters over minor flaws

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has advised its officers to not withhold exporters’ refunds on account of minor procedural lapses or “non-substantive errors.”

In a circular to field officers, it has also clarified that exporters will have to provide copies of all necessary documents including invoices to process refunds. The apex indirect tax authority has listed out the required documents for claming refunds and asked the officers to demand other papers only in cases where electronic data is not available. “It is requested that suitable trade notices may be issued to publicise the contents of this circular,” Upender Gupta, Commissioner (GST) wrote to senior officers in the field.

The CBEC has specified the types of refunds and documents required for them. In case of refund of IGST paid on export of services, invoices related to input, input services and capital goods would be required in addition to a copy of Form RFD-01A filed on the common portal.

For refund of accumulated input tax credit (ITC) of IGST, CGST, SGST, UTGST and cess, documents such as copy of Statement 3A of FORM RFD-01A would be additionally required.

A section of exporters had earlier complained that field officers were arbitrarily demanding documents for processing GST refund claims. This led to delay in processing the claims, and in many cases even rejections. Following representations from trade bodies, the prime minister’s office (PMO) had earlier this month called a meeting of senior officers in finance and commerce ministries.

The delay in exporters’ refund under GST has hit the exporters hard with many of them, especially small firms struggling for working capital.

As per industry estimate, only Rs 4,000 crore worth of refunds have been released so far out of a total claim of about Rs 14,000 crore.  One of the reasons for delay in refund claims is errors found in forms submitted by exporters with the customs and the Goods and Services Network (GSTN).

Nirbhay Kumar