Re-Availment Of Credit Reversed Under Section 17(5)- Conditions And Limitation Period

Introduction
Section 16 of the Central Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 deals with eligibility and conditions for taking the input tax credit. Accordingly, every registered person shall be entitled to take credit of input tax charged on any supply of goods or services or both to him which are used or intended to be used in the course or furtherance of his business.

Section 17 of the CGST deals with apportionment of credit and blocked credit. Sub-section (5) of section 17 enumerates the goods and services in respect of which the input tax credit shall not be available.

Clauses (g) and (h) of sub-section (50 of section 17 envisages the following goods or services, namely;
(g) Goods or services or both used for personal consumption
(h) Goods lost, stolen, destroyed, written off or disposed of by way of gift or free samples.

The situations mentioned in the above clauses are of such nature where the events of non-eligibility of the input tax credit occur after the availment of credit under section 16. For e.g. a trader of electricity appliances purchases air-conditioners for sale and avails of the input tax credit of the same. At a later point of time, he puts one air-conditioner for his personal use. There may also be cases where the input tax credit is availed of on goods purchased for use in manufacture but the same is found ineligible at a later point of time due to unforeseen future events such as goods being lost or stolen before use in manufacture. In such cases, the assessee having availed the ITC at the time of receipt of such goods would be required to reverse the same in terms of section 17 (5).

In this regard the following issue arises namely;
(a)Manner of reversal under section 17(5)
(b) Applicability of interest under section 50 and
(c) Re-availment of credit reversed under section 17(5) where the events causing a reversal of credit gets nullified, for e.g. if the goods that were lost or stolen is subsequently traced.

The present write-up seeks to examine the above issued in its proper perspective.

Reversal of input tax credit under section 17(5)
Under the GST law, a specific procedure is prescribed for the manner of reversal of credit on account on non-payment of consideration to the vendor within 180 days in terms of the second proviso to section 16(2), or use of input or services in effecting exempt supplies under sub-section (2) of section 17. However, no specified mechanism is prescribed for the manner of reversal of credit for situations mentioned in section 17(5).

In the absence of any specific mechanism for reversal of such credit, debiting the restricted credit in the ineligible ITC Table of GSTR-3B would be sufficient for the purpose of section 17(5).

Applicability Of Interest Under Section 50
Sub-section (1) of section 73 provides that where it appears to the proper officer that any tax has not been paid or short paid or erroneously refunded, or where input tax credit has been wrongly availed or utilised for any reason, other than the reason of fraud or any wilful-misstatement or suppression of facts to evade tax, he may demand the tax so short-paid or not paid or input tax credit wrongly availed or utilised along with interest payable thereon under section 50.

Sub-section (1) of section 50 provides for payment of interest where any person who is liable to pay tax fails to pay the tax or any part thereof within the prescribed period.

Sub-section (3) of section 50 provides for a charge of interest on account of under or excess claim of input tax credit under sub-section (10) of section 42 (due to mismatch of credit) or undue or excess reduction in output tax liability under sub-section (10) of section 43.

A careful reading of section 50 suggests that no interest liability is provided where the wrongful availment of credit does not lead to a situation where there is short-payment of tax, due to accumulation of eligible credit.

It is also clear from the clear language of section 50 that even in cases where excess availment of credit is not due to mismatch under section 42 but on account of being an ineligible credit under section 16, no interest can be demanded under section50(3).

Re-Availment Of Credit-Conditions And Limitations
Under the GST law, re-availment of reversed ITC is envisaged under the third proviso to sub-section (2) of section 16 of the Act, where the recipient of goods or services makes payment of the amount towards the value of supply of goods or services or both along with tax payable thereon.

The GST Act or rules made thereunder, however, does not speak about the manner and time limit for re-availment of credit reversed due to the circumstance mentioned under section 17(5).

Though there is no specific provision for re-availment of credit under the above situation on the analogy of the third proviso to sub-section (2) of section 16, if the goods that were lost or stolen are subsequently traced and added back in inventory then the taxpayers become eligible for re-availment of credit as if they were always eligible to avail credit under section 16 of the CGST Act.

Hence, where an assessee is able to establish that the event leading to the reversal of input tax credit under section 17(5) has been nullified, it can be concluded that he would be entitled to re-avail the credit so reversed.

Further, no specific document is prescribed for reclaiming of credit earlier reversed. However, it is advisable to maintain a complete record so as to establish the fact of credit eligibility. It is also prudent to inform the Department about the fact of re-availment of the credit so as to avoid litigation in the future.

Limitation Period For Re-Availment Of The Credit
Sub-section (4) of section 16 envisages the time limit for taking of input tax credit in respect of any invoice or debit, not for the supply of goods or services or both. Accordingly, the input tax credit cannot be taken in respect of any invoice or debit note for the supply of goods or services or both after the date of furnishing of the return under section 39 for the month of September following the end of the financial year to which such invoice or debit note pertains or furnishing of the relevant annual return whichever is earlier.

As per sub-rule (4) of rule 37 of the CGST Rules, the time limit specified in subsection 94, of section16 shall not apply to claim for re-availing of any credit, in accordance with the provisions of the Act or the provisions of Chapter V of the CGST Rules, that has been reversed earlier.

It may be noted that rule 37 prescribes the manner of reversal of input tax credit in the case of non-payment of consideration. But sub-rule (4) of rule 37 speaks about there-availment of input tax credit generally. Hence in the opinion of the author, there is no time limit for re-availment of the credit that was reversed due to applicability of section 17(5). But the credit should be re-availed as soon as the event leading to there-availment occurs.

It is however advisable to keep complete track and documentation of the event leading to reversal as well as re-availment of the credit under section 17(5).

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