With the budget announcement this year, Rule 4C of the Service Tax Rules, 1994 was introduced to prescribe provision for issuing digitally signed invoices, bill or challan along with the option of maintaining of records in electronic form and their authentication by means of digital signatures effective from 01.03.2015.
The CBEC has specified the conditions, safeguards and procedures for issue of invoices, preserving records in electronic form, authentication of records and invoices by digital signatures which are as follows:
· Use of only Class 2 or Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate duly issued by the Certifying Authority in India;
· Intimating details like name, e-mail id, office address, designation of the person authorized, name of the Certifying Authority, date of issue and validity of the digital certificate with a copy of the certificate issued by the Certifying Authority to the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner, at least 15 days in advance;
· Submitting complete details afresh in case of any change in the details already submitted within 15 days of such change;
· Maintaining separate electronic records for each Service Tax Registration;
· Producing the specified records in electronic form and invoices through e-mail or on a specified storage device in an electronically readable format for verification, on request by the Central Excise Officer;
· Maintenance and preservation of appropriate back up of records in electronic form for a period of 5 years