Photocopies of Invoices sufficient to Process Service Tax Refund: CESTAT [Read Order]

Cognizant - Photocopies of Invoices - Service Tax Refund - CESTAT - Taxscan

The Chennai bench of the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) has held that there is no mandatory requirement to produce original invoices in order to prove the service tax refund claims. While granting refund to the appellants, the Tribunal held that the photocopies of the invoices shall be treated as sufficient proof to accept such claims.

The appellant Cognizant is engaged in providing Information Technology Software Services and holds Service Tax registration for such services as well as services in the nature of Management Maintenance and Repair Services, Business Support Services, etc, providing services from various premises situated at different locations across the country. They have set up units in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) from where they export services and claimed service tax in relation to 25 SEZ units.

The department rejected the refund claims on various grounds including non-production of original invoices.

The appellant contended that all the services were used for authorized operations by the appellant and these services have been approved as ‘specified services’ by the Unit Approval Committee (UAC) / Development Commissioner of SEZ. It was further argued that the authorities below then cannot apply their own view to hold that such services are not specified services for authorized operations.

With regard to the non-submission of original invoices, the Tribunal bench comprising Judicial Member Mr. Sulekha Beevi and Accountant Member Mr. Venkata Subba Rao held that “the relevant condition in the Notification has already been noticed above. The appellant asserts that they have produced the photocopies of all the invoices. The requirement as per the Notification is to produce proof of payment of Service Tax. If the photocopies of the invoices establish the transaction as well as the payment of Service Tax, the Department ought not to have rejected the refund claim stating that original invoices are not produced. We therefore cannot agree with this view taken by the authorities below. If the appellant produces proof of payment of Service Tax, the same should be considered. However, this issue is remanded to the Adjudicating Authority, who shall re-consider this issue after verifying the copies of the invoices/documents produced by the appellant.”

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