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Unveiling Power of Section 71: Accessing Business Premises under GST Act

CA Harshit Goyal , Last updated: 05 June 2023  
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Introduction

The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act has revolutionized the way businesses operate in India. With the aim of ensuring transparency, accountability, and revenue protection, various provisions have been introduced. One such provision that demands attention is Section 71 - Access to Business Premises. In this article, we will delve into the key aspects of Section 71 and discuss its significance for businesses.

Understanding Section 71

Under Section 71 of the GST Act, any officer authorized by a proper officer, not below the rank of Joint Commissioner, has the authority to access the premises of a registered person's business. This provision grants the officer the power to inspect books of account, documents, computers, computer programs, computer software, and other relevant items available at the place of business. The purpose of this access is to conduct audits, scrutinize records, verify information, and perform necessary checks to safeguard the interest of revenue.

Unveiling Power of Section 71: Accessing Business Premises under GST Act

Obligations of the Person in Charge

Every person in charge of the premises mentioned in Sub-section (1) of Section 71 is obligated to provide access and cooperate with the authorized officer. On-demand, the person in charge must make available the following records within the stipulated timeframe:

  1. Records are prepared or maintained by the registered person and declared to the proper officer as per prescribed guidelines.
  2. Trial balance or its equivalent.
  3. Statements of annual financial accounts, duly audited when required.
  4. Cost audit report, if applicable under Section 148 of the Companies Act, 2013.
  5. Income-tax audit report, if applicable under Section 44AB of the Income-tax Act, 1961.
  6. Any other relevant record that may be necessary for scrutiny.

The person in charge should ensure that these records are provided to the authorized officer, the audit party deputed by the proper officer, or the nominated cost accountant/chartered accountant under Section 66. The officer, audit party, or chartered accountant/cost accountant conducting the scrutiny should complete their examination within fifteen working days from the day of the demand. However, an extension may be allowed if required.

 

Implications for Businesses

Section 71 of the GST Act has far-reaching implications for businesses in India. It emphasizes the importance of maintaining accurate records, adhering to prescribed guidelines, and cooperating with the authorities. Compliance with this provision ensures transparency and accountability, while also mitigating the risk of penalties or legal consequences.

 

Conclusion

Section 71 of the GST Act acts as a powerful tool to safeguard the interest of revenue and promote compliance among businesses. By allowing authorized officers access to business premises and the necessary records, this provision enhances transparency and strengthens the overall integrity of the GST system. Business owners and professionals, particularly Chartered Accountants and Cost Accountants, should familiarize themselves with Section 71 and educate their clients about its implications. Together, we can create a business environment that thrives on compliance, accountability, and revenue protection.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal or professional advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional for advice specific to their business or circumstances.

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CA Harshit Goyal
(CA)
Category GST   Report

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