GST Notice served on Email ID and Common Portal is valid
GST is payable on a self-assessment basis. If the assessee pays the tax on self-assessment correctly then there will not be any problem. If there is any short payment or wrong utilization of input credit, then the GST authorities will initiate demand and recovery provisions against the assessee.
In the best judgment assessment, an assessing officer assesses based on his reasoning and using the information available. The assessment will be made without any having any bias. Under GST, best judgment assessment becomes applicable in 2 situations-
- When a taxable person has not filed a return
- When a person has not registered for GST even though he is liable to
Section 62 of CGST Act, 2017 explains Assessment of non-filers of returns. According to Section 62, where a registered person fails to furnish the return under section 39 or section 45, even after the service of a notice under section 46, the proper officer may proceed to assess the tax liability of the said person to the best of his judgment taking into account all the relevant material which is available or which he has gathered and issue an assessment order within 5 years from the date specified under section 44 for furnishing of the annual return for the financial year to which the tax not paid relates.
Where the registered person furnishes a valid return within 30 days of the service of the assessment order, the said assessment order shall be deemed to have been withdrawn but the liability for payment of interest under section 50(1) or for payment of late fee under section 47 shall continue.
Lets refer to the case of K U Niyas – Gold Wood Enterprise vs Assistant Commissioner (2020) (Kerala High Court) where the petitioner approached the High Court challenging the demand cum recovery notices issued to him under the GST Act.
Facts of the Case
- Demand notices were issued to the petitioner, pursuant to assessment orders that were passed on 25.11.2019 and 27.11.2019 respectively, for the assessment period April 2018 and May 2018 to May 2019.
- According to the petitioner the assessment orders were not served on him but, immediately on receipt of the demand notices, he took the necessary steps and filed returns for the respective period, within 30 days from the date of receipt of the demand notices, so as to get the benefit of withdrawal of the assessment orders as contemplated under Section 62 of the GST Act.
Submissions by Respondents
- According to the respondents the assessment orders were uploaded on the web portal of the department on the same dates, namely, 25.11.2019 and 27.11.2019 as they were passed.
- As per the provisions of Section 62 of the GST Act, the assessee had an option to file returns for the period concerned, within 30 days from the date of receipt of the orders passed on best judgment basis by the assessing authority, for getting the orders withdrawn.
- In the instant case, while the assessment orders passed on best judgment basis were uploaded on the web portal of the department on 25.11.2019 and 27.11.2019, the petitioner did not file his returns for the period covered by the said orders within 30 days from the said date.
- On the contrary, the returns pertaining to the respective period were filed within 30 days from the date of receipt of the demand notices that followed the assessment orders.
Observations of the High Court (HC)
- On consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case and the submissions made, HC noted that as per Section 169(c) and (d) of the GST Act, the service of any communication to the e-mail address provided by an assessee at the time of registration and also by making available the communication in the common portal of the department, was to be treated as an effective communication under the statute.
- Therefore, that the petitioner cannot wish away the fact that the assessment orders were brought to his notice on 25.11.2019 and 27.11.2019 respectively.
- As the returns filed by the petitioner for the period covered by the assessment orders were belated i.e they were filed more than 30 days after the date of service of the orders on the petitioner via the web portal of the department, he cannot hope for the benefit of withdrawal of the assessment orders as mandated under Section 62 of the GST Act.
- The Petition against the assessment orders and demand notices therefore was accordingly dismissed by the HC
Taking note of the submission of the petitioner that he would require some time to prefer appeals against the assessment orders, HC directed that recovery proceedings confirmed against the petitioner, by the assessment orders and demand notices, shall be kept in abeyance (suspended) for 6 weeks to enable the petitioner to move the appellate authority through statutory appeals.
In conclusion, any communication to the e-mail address provided by an assessee at the time of registration or in the common portal of the department is to be treated as an effective communication under GST. The taxpayer will have to file his returns within 30 days from the date of communication of the assessment order to avail the benefit of Section 62.
The following precautions may be taken to ensure that you do not miss your GST notices:-
- Ensure that details like PAN, name of the business, the constitution of business, etc. are matching with the details appearing as per PAN records since GST registration is PAN-based. Further, check the status of PAN to ensure that it is not cancelled.
- Verify the e-mail address and phone number provided so that the OTP and the TRN can be received on the correct e-mail address/phone number.
- Ensure that promoter/authorised signatory details like DIN, PAN, Aadhaar, etc. are matching with their respective databases (MCA, NSDL, UIDAI, etc.).
- Enter a valid address since an on-site visit may be made by the relevant authorities.
- Check that updated and valid supporting documents are uploaded for every detail required.
- Check your mail and letter on a daily basis to ensure that you have not missed any notice or communication from the GST Department
- Check the common portal also on a daily basis to ensure that you have not missed any notice or communication from the GST Department