The year 2020 witnessed key changes to the indirect tax regime. Some technology-based changes such as faceless assessment under Customs and e-invoicing and QR code requirements under GST, were also introduced. This update summarises some of the major developments in the past year along with our expectations for the year ahead.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the consequent lockdowns and disruption to business, indirect tax authorities in India took a proactive approach to address some of the issues faced by tax-payers. Some measures taken included extension of timelines for filing appeals and undertaking Goods and Services Tax (GST)/Customs related compliances.

On the Customs front, a faceless assessment programme was introduced to reduce the time taken for Customs clearance and to address the issues of uniformity in classification and assessment. Further, e-invoicing was introduced under GST, making it mandatory for the specified taxpayers to issue GST invoices with Invoice Reference Number (IRN).

The High Courts also played a major role in granting relief to taxpayers in various writ petitions filed on contentious issues such as transitioning of Cenvat Credit, levy of GST on ocean freight etc.

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