Section 36 of GST – Period of retention of accounts

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Section 36 of GST – Period of retention of accounts

Every registered person required to keep and maintain books of account or other records in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 35 shall retain them until the expiry of seventy-two months from the due date of furnishing of annual return for the year pertaining to such accounts and records:

Provided that a registered person, who is a party to an appeal or revision or any other proceedings before any Appellate Authority or Revisional Authority or Appellate Tribunal or court, whether filed by him or by the Commissioner, or is under investigation for an offence under Chapter XIX, shall retain the books of account and other records pertaining to the subject matter of such appeal or revision or proceedings or investigation for a period of one year after final disposal of such appeal or revision or proceedings or investigation, or for the period specified above, whichever is later.

Introduction

This section provides for the period up to which records and accounts must be retained by the assessee.

Analysis

1. Every assessee shall retain the books of accounts and other records until the expiry of 72 months (6 years) from the due date for filing of Annual Return for the year pertaining to such accounts and records. If the annual returns for the FY 2017-18 are filed on say 31.12.2018, even then, the books of account and other records are to be maintained till 31.12.2024. Even if the annual return is filed earlier, the start date for considering 72 months runs from the end of due date to file the annual return.

This time period is more than the time limit prescribed in section 62(1) for issuance of order of assessment i.e. 5 years from the due date for filing of annual return or date of erroneous refund (as applicable) in cases of fraud, wilful mis-statement, suppression of facts, etc.]

2. In case an appeal or revision or any other proceeding is pending before any Appellate Authority or Revisional Authority or Appellate Tribunal or Court, or in case the assessee is under investigation for an offence under Chapter XIX, the assessee shall retain the books of account and other records pertaining to the subject matter of such appeal or revision or proceeding or investigation for a period of one year after final disposal of such appeal or revision or proceeding, or for the period specified records u/s 35(1), whichever is later.

Comparative Review

  • Rule 5(3) of Service Tax Rules, 1994 provides that all records shall be preserved for a period of five years immediately after the financial year to which such records pertain.
  • Chapter 6 of the CBEC’s Central Excise Manual obligates every assessee to maintain the records for a period of five years immediately after the financial year to which such records pertain.
  • Different State VAT laws prescribe different time periods for maintenance of records. However, many States prescribed a period of five years.
  • Where the proceedings are pending in appeal, revision etc., the records are generally maintained till the proceedings are finally concluded, though this is not specifically stipulated in the erstwhile laws. In fact, the books and records are required to be maintained till the time frame for revision proceedings stand open and are not barred by limitation of period.

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