Due to current situation, GST officers would have to audit and assess taxpayers by way of video-conferencing, instead of physical visits but the current guidelines need to be reviewed for this. As per the current goods and services tax (GST) audit guidelines, taxpayers have been broadly categorised into three groups based on their annual turnover which are, large and medium and small.
While large and medium units need to be compulsorily audited but for small units, desk-based audit has been suggested by the guidelines. However, in the case of non-cooperative taxpayers or any inherent weakness of the internal control system, officers could shift back to the premises-based audit.
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) issued instructions requiring officers to hold a personal hearing in respect of customs law, central excise and service tax laws through the video-conferencing facility. GST audit and assessment for 2017-18 will start soon and the department will have to review the audit guidelines.
One of the part of the CBIC is Customs which has already embraced the use of technology and it is expected that GST having more than 1.2 crore taxpayers would also introduce such facility in all the departmental functions including assessments, adjudications, appeals, and audit. Introducing a video-conferencing facility in all the tax laws is imperative to the business continuity plan of the economy, otherwise, this pandemic will result in inordinate delay in the delivery of justice.