Govt gets cracking on GST refunds for exporters

NEW DELHI: Three days after the GST Council backed speeding of tax refunds for exporters, the Centre on Monday issued detailed guidelines which advised field officers to ensure that all exporters immediately file GSTR 1, the first set of returns for July. It also suggested that officers could show some flexibility in allowing payment of refunds.
At the same time, officers have been asked to be strict with exports that are not in line with the Customs Act and withhold Integrated GST refunds.
The new rules come a day before the processing of the refunds for July begins. As part of the new mechanism, processing for August is to begin from October 18 with revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Sunday telling a new agency that the refunds will be processed in a month or two, an indication that the process will be completed by the end of next month.
“The government in line with the GST Council decision has issued instructions for refund to exporters. However, this refund is limited to rebate of GST paid on exports. The refund of input GST credit in case of export under LUT (letter of undertaking) still remains unresolved and would continue to remain a cash flow issue for exporters,” said Abhishek Jain, tax partner at consulting firm EY India.
Exporters have been complaining of a severe impact on orders due to the government’s inablity to process refunds expeditiously. The finance ministry has said that filing of export manifest is mandatory for treating a shipping bill or a export as a refund claim and commissioners have been asked to ensure that airlines and shipping lines file documents within prescribed time. But they have been asked to follow up on these cases to expedite the refunds. Similarly, the commissioners have also been asked to ensure that exporters file the requisite GST returns (GSTR 1 and GSTR 3 or 3B) and the details need to be matched carefully.
The officers have been told that they should go ahead with the refunds even if the bank accounts with the customs department do not match with those provided in the GST registration.