E-filing of Returns
The assesses can electronically file statutory returns of Central Excise and Service Tax by choosing one of the two facilities being offered by the department at present: (a) they can file it online, or (b) download the off-line return utilities which can be filled-in off-line and uploaded to the system through the internet.
a. Steps for preparing and filing returns
(i) Returns can be prepared and filed on line by selecting the ‘File Return’ option under RET module after logging into the ACES.
(ii) All validations are thrown up during the preparation of the return in this mode and the status of the return filed using the online mode is instantaneously shown by ACES.
(iii) Returns can also be prepared and filed off-line. Assessee downloads the Offline return preparation utility available at http://www.aces.gov.in (Under Download)
(iv) Prepares the return offline using this utility. The return preparation utility contains preliminary validations which are thrown up by the utility from time to time.
(v) Assessee logs in using the User ID and password.
(vi) Selects RET from the main menu and uploads the return. Instructions for using the offline utilities are given in detail in the Help section, under ‘Download’ link and assessees are advised to follow them.
(vii) Returns uploaded through this procedure are validated by the ACES before acceptance into the system which may take up to one business day. Assessee can track the status of the return by selecting the appropriate option in the RET sub menu. The status will appear as “uploaded” meaning under process by ACES, “Filed” meaning successfully accepted by the system or “Rejected” meaning the ACES has rejected the return due to validation error. The rejected returns can be resubmitted after corrections.
(viii) Once the Central Excise returns are filed online in ACES or uploaded to the system using the off-line utility, the same can not be modified or cancelled by the assessee. The Service Tax returns, however, can be modified once as per rules up to 90 days from the date of filing the initial return.
(ix) Self-assessed CE returns, after scrutiny by the competent officer, may result into modification. Both the ‘Original’ and the ‘Reviewed’ return can be viewed by the assessee online.
b. Using XML Schema for filing Dealers Return
Currently, the ACES Application allows on-line filing of Quarterly Returns by the Registered Dealers accessing the site www.aces.gov.in by using the excel utility. Some assesses who use their own software application in their offices find the process of manual entry of data in the excel format of Returns as a time consuming and avoidable exercise. A new feature of XML schema has now been introduced. Now using the schema, assessees, after making necessary modifications in their own software application, can generate their return from their application. Below mentioned steps elaborate the process to prepare, validate and upload the Dealer’s Return.
Steps to prepare the XML
Step 1: ACES application accepts the return in XML format. Prepare the Dealer return XML and validate it against the schema ACES_DLR.xsd provided.
Step 2: Login to the ACES application and upload the XML for processing. XML will be again validated against same XSD again before processing.
XML File only will be considered valid if it satisfies the requirements of the schema (predefined XSD) with which it has been associated. These requirements typically include such constraints as:
Elements and attributes that must/may be included, and their permitted structure
The structure as specified by regular expression syntax
Instructions for using the schema are given in detail in the Help section, under ‘Download’ link. Assessees are advised to follow them.
c. Filing of Returns and other documents through the ACES Certified Facilitation Centres (CFCs)
Very soon, CBEC will be setting up ACES Certified Facilitation Centres (CFCs) with the help of professional bodies like Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI) etc. These CFCc will provide a host of services to the assessees such as digitization of paper documents like returns etc. and uploading the same to ACES. Assessees requiring the services of the CFCs may be required to pay service fees to the CFCs. CBEC will approve the maximum rates at which CFCs can charge their customers for the services rendered by them. For this purpose, assessees are required to write to the department authorizing one of the CFCs, from the approved list, to work in ACES on their behalf. They have to furnish the name and other details of the CFCs, including the registration No issued by the ICAI/ICWAI etc. At any given time, one assessee can authorize one CFC, while one CFC can provide services to more than one assessee throughout India. In case the assessee wants to withdraw the authorization, it can do so by intimating the department. However, an assessee will be held liable for all actions of omission or commission of the CFC, during the period they are authorized by him/her to work in ACES.
d. Validation of the entries made while filling return
1. At the time of making entry in the electronic format of the relevant return, the software does some preliminary validation for ensuring correctness of data, either concurrently or at the time of saving / submitting the return. This validation process is automated. The user is prompted by the application software to correct the particulars entered wherever required. In respect of certain entries, although the application alerts the assessee about any entry found erroneous or inconsistent, as per the automated validation process, the assessee is still allowed to proceed further to complete data entry of the return and finally submit it electronically. But in some cases the assessees are not allowed to proceed further unless the error indicated is corrected.
2. A return filed electronically is subject to automatic verification process by the application and defective returns are marked to the departmental officer for review and correction. While reviewing the return the officer may seek some clarification from the assessee, call for some information, records or documents which should be furnished by the assessee. In case of review and correction of returns by the departmental officers, assesses will receive a message from the application and they can log in to the application to view the reviewed returns online.
3. Returns, captured off-line using the Downloadable utility and uploaded later on, are further subjected to certain validation checks. Processing of uploaded returns, using the off-line versions, is done at the end of one business day and the status can be viewed by the assessees under the ‘VIEW STATUS’ link under ‘RET’ module. Status is described as ‘UPLOADED’, ‘FILED’ or ‘REJECTED’ and they denote as follows:
UPLOADED denotes that return is uploaded and under processing (assessees are advised to view the status after the end of a business day).
FILED denotes that uploaded return is accepted by system.
REJECTED denotes that return is rejected due to errors. (The assessees are required to correct the return and upload it again.)
4. There is no provision in ACES application to allow assessees to make corrections to the returns filed by them. Once the return is accepted by the system as successfully ‘filed’, no modification can be made by the assessee. However, if the return is rejected, the assessee can correct the errors and upload it again. The assessees are, therefore, advised to take utmost care while fill-in in the returns. They may, however, bring it to the notice of the departmental officers.
e. Acknowledgement of E-Filing of the return
In the case of a Central Excise or service Tax return filed on-line, ACES application software acknowledges it by displaying an Acknowledgement message. A unique document reference number is generated which consist of 15-digit registration number of the assessee, name of the return filed, the period for which return is filed etc. This is also automatically communicated to the email id of the assessee by the application. In the case of an uploaded Central Excise return, using offline utility, similar acknowledgement is generated and sent after the acceptance of the return by the system as a valid return i.e. when the status changes to ‘FILED’.
f. Class of Assessees for whom e-filing of returns and e-payment is mandatory with effect from 1st April, 2010:
1. In terms of Notification No 04/2010-Central Excise (N.T.) dated the 19th February, 2010, an assessee, who has paid total duty of rupees ten lakhs or more including the amount of duty paid by utilization of CENVAT credit in the preceding financial year, is required to file the monthly or quarterly return, as the case may be, electronically, under sub-rule (1) of Rule 12 of the Central Excise Rules, 2002 and deposit the duty electronically through internet banking under sub-rule (1) of Rule 8 of the Central Excise Rules, 2002.
2. Similarly, in terms of Notification No. 01/2010 – Service Tax dated the 19th February, 2010, an assessee who has paid a total Service Tax of rupees ten lakhs or more including the amount paid by utilization of CENVAT credit, in the preceding financial year, is required to file the return electronically under sub-rule (2) of Rule 7 of the Service Tax Rules, 1994 and deposit the service Tax liable to be paid by him electronically, through internet banking under sub-rule (2) of Rule 6 of the Service Tax Rules, 1994.
3. The earlier facility of e-filing on the website (http://exciseandservicetax.nic.in), as provided in the CBEC Circular No.791/24/2004-CX. Dated 1.6.2004 is no more available and the assessees are required to file their returns online or by uploading the downloadable off-line return utilities to the new ACES website (http://www.aces.gov.in). Data structure for writing programmes to cull out the required return data (currently available for Dealer return) from the assessees’s computers in XML format has also been provided. Such schema for ER 2 and ER 1 returns will be published in due course. For complete details and instructions, assessees can visit the aforesaid website. Assessees who are required to or opted to file returns electronically but are unable to file electronically, for any technical difficulty in filing the returns, on account of difficulties at the department’s end viz. server/application is down or due to some defect in the software, should file their returns manually within the due date.
The ACES application is designed to accept digitally signed documents. However, in the beginning this functionality is not going to be activated. Pending its activation the electronic returns will be filed into ACES without digital signatures. Hence, wherever the returns are submitted through ACES there will not be any requirement to submit signed hard copy separately.
System Requirements for ACES
To use ACES following systems requirements are recommended:
Processor: Intel Pentium III and higher
RAM: 256 MB and higher
HDD: 80 GB and more
Web Browser: IE 6.0 and above, Netscape 6.2 and above
MS Excel 2003 and above for using offline utilities
Sound Card, Speakers/Headphones, Colour Monitor for using Learning Management Systems ( LMS)
Help for Assessees
CBEC has set up a Service Desk with National toll-free No. 1800 425 4251, which can be accessed by between 9 AM to 7 PM on all working days (Monday to Friday). Besides, e-mails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. All the calls/e-mails will be issued a unique ticket number, which will be attended to by the Service Desk agents for appropriate response.
A Learning Management Software (LMS) has been provided on the ACES website, which is a multimedia-based self-learning online tutorial guiding the aseesees in a step-by-step processes to use ACES. The downloadable version of Learning Management Software is also provided on the website. Besides, User Manuals, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), Power Point Presentation, and a Brochure have also been provided on the website to help the assessees use ACES.