Recently, registered companies and individuals have been under the radar of CIBC for GST Audit Scrutiny. If you are a duly compliant registered person, you have a lower chance of being noticed for a GST audit. Before delving into the cases and situations in which one must follow the GST Audit procedure, let us first understand the GST Audit Types and their Objectives:

Audit by Tax Authorities:

Why is an audit done under GST?

Auditing taxpayer records is a critical step in ensuring the proper operation of a self-assessment-based tax system like return filing, input tax credit availed, refund claimed and other tax payment. This provision allows for the audit of any registered person’s business transactions. It is a critical tool in the tax administration for ensuring legal compliance and preventing revenue leakage.

Who may conduct an audit?

Any officer authorized by the Commissioner, whether by general or specific order. The audit will occur at the registered person’s place of business or the tax authorities’ office. The taxable person must be notified of the audit within at least 15 working days. It is important to note that the Commissioner’s offer must be specific to the auditee and the tax period chosen for the audit.

What is the Time limit to complete a GST Audit?

The audit must be completed within three months of the date of commencement of the audit. The Commissioner may extend the time by a further period of up to 6 months if necessary. The Commissioner must write down the reasons for granting any such extension.

What is the meaning of the date of commencement of the audit?  

The date of audit initiation means the date on which the registered person makes available the records and documents requisitioned by the tax authorities or the initiation of the audit at the place of business, whichever is later.

How will an Audit be Conducted?

  • During the audit, the authorized officer may require the registered person to provide him with the necessary facilities to verify the books of account, as well as to furnish the necessary information and render assistance for the timely completion of the audit.

  • During the audit, the proper officer is authorized to verify books and records, returns and statements, and the tax rate applicable to the supply of goods and services. Input tax credit claimed/availed/unutilized and refunded claimed accuracy. After the audit is completed, the information must be provided to the registered person, including the audit findings, within 30 days of the audit’s completion.

  • In cases where tax liability is discovered during an audit or the auditee’s input tax credit is wrongfully claimed or utilized, the procedure outlined in sections 73 and 74 must be followed.

  • An audit cannot be completed automatically and results in a demand. It must adhere to the procedure outlined in sections 73 or 74.

Special Audit

A special audit sounds like it will result in special findings, but it is not that special. Using the services of experts is a time-honored practice of due process. Section 66 of the Act, also known as the special audit section, provides one such facility, allowing an officer not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner to hire a Chartered Accountant or a Cost Accountant to conduct a detailed examination of specific areas of a registered person’s operations.

When and who can issue the special audit order?

  • At any stage of scrutiny, inquiry, investigation, or other proceedings under the Act, an Assistant Commissioner or Officer of higher rank may direct a registered person to have his books of accounts audited by a Chartered Accountant or Cost Accountant if, having regard to the nature and complexity of the business, he is of the opinion that:

-Value has not been declared correctly, or

-The credit available is not within the normal range.

  • The assistant commissioner must consult with the Commissioner before issuing such direction to the taxable person. The Commissioner will appoint the CA or CWA.

  • Special audits must be conducted under this section regardless of whether the registered person’s accounts have been audited under any other provisions of this Act or any other law in force at the time.

What is the Time limit to complete a GST Audit?

The CA or CWA so appointed shall submit the audit report to the Assistant Commissioner within 90 days, mentioning the specified particulars.

The deadline for submitting the audit report may be extended by another 90 days upon application to the Assistant Commissioner by the CA, CWA, or the authorized person for any material or sufficient reason.

Taking Action Based on the Audit Report

The registered person shall be allowed to be heard concerning any metric gathered based on a special audit and proposed to be used in any proceedings brought against him under the Act or the rules enacted thereunder.

If the special audit reveals unpaid or underpaid tax, incorrectly refunded tax, or incorrectly availed or used input tax credit, the proper officer may take action under sections 73 or 74.

Note: The Commissioner shall determine and pay the expenses of the audit records, including the remuneration of such CA or CWA, and such determination shall be final.

Turnover-Based GST Audit

Suppose a registered taxpayer’s annual turnover exceeds Rs.2 crore in a fiscal year. In that case, he must have a mandatory GST audit carried out by a Chartered Accountant or Cost Accountant every year. A fiscal year is the 12 months beginning in April of one calendar year and ending in March of the following calendar year.

The turnover limit for the fiscal year 2017-18 has been clarified in the government’s press release dated July 3, 2019. It will cover the period from July 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, excluding the first quarter of the fiscal year 2017-18. Filing of GSTR-9C for FY 2018-19 is waived for businesses with an annual turnover of less than Rs 5 crore.

NOTE:

  1. Total turnover must be calculated on a PAN basis, which means that once the turnover under the PAN exceeds Rs. 2 crores, all business entities registered under GST for that PAN will be subject to GST audit for the fiscal year.

  2. Filing of GSTR-9C is waived for businesses with an annual turnover of less than Rs 5 crore through various CBIC notifications up to FY 2019-20. According to the Finance Act of 2021, the application for GST audit by CA/CMA will be removed from the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2021. However, as of June 11, 2021, it had yet to be announced.

As a result, if the total turnover of all branches exceeds Rs. 2 crores, the GST audit applies to all of these branches, regardless of whether the turnover of a particular branch is less than the threshold. In such cases, a single dedicated auditor for all branches or a separate auditor for each branch can be appointed.

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