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Indirect Taxation: Legal Milestones Financial Year 2020-21 and a Look Ahead

14 Apr 2021

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The year 2020 witnessed key changes to the indirect tax regime. Some technology-based changes such as faceless assessment under Customs and e-invoicing and QR code requirements under GST, were also introduced. This update summarises some of the major developments in the past year along with our expectations for the year ahead.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the consequent lockdowns and disruption to business, indirect tax authorities in India took a proactive approach to address some of the issues faced by tax-payers. Some measures taken included extension of timelines for filing appeals and undertaking Goods and Services Tax (GST)/Customs related compliances.

On the Customs front, a faceless assessment programme was introduced to reduce the time taken for Customs clearance and to address the issues of uniformity in classification and assessment. Further, e-invoicing was introduced under GST, making it mandatory for the specified taxpayers to issue GST invoices with Invoice Reference Number (IRN).

The High Courts also played a major role in granting relief to taxpayers in various writ petitions filed on contentious issues such as transitioning of Cenvat Credit, levy of GST on ocean freight etc.

Further, the Budget 2021 proposes several changes to strengthen the foundation of indirect tax laws such as the introduction of an online customs portal. It also proposes changes to emphasise building production capabilities in India, such as increasing customs duty rates on certain goods. Several proposals have also been made to reduce the compliance burden for taxpayers under the GST framework such as the removal of requirement of GST audit by a chartered/cost accountant. Please click here for a more detailed analysis of the Budget 2021. The Finance Act, 2021 has also now received Presidential assent on 28 March 2021.

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