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Applicability of Clause 44 of Form 3CD Tax Audit Report for FY 2021-22 (AY 2022-23)

applicability-of-clause-44-of-form-3cd-tax-audit-report-for-fy-2021-22-ay-2022-23

Tax Audit Report in Form 3CD contains ‘Clause 44’ which deals with reporting requirements related to GST expenditure and is a significant cause of concern among the tax auditors and the assessee. The confusion seen is related to the applicability of clause 44 of Form 3CD for the assessment year 2022-23 or FY 2021-22.


This article efforts to interpret the applicability of reporting in Clause 44 of Form 3CD of Tax Audit Report required to be filed for the financial year (FY) 2021-22 (AY 2022-23).


Background of Tax Audit Report


Under the Income Tax Act, 1961, every person carrying on business is required to get his accounts audited, if his total sales, turnover or gross receipts, in business exceed Rs. 1 crore in any previous year. The Tax Audit turnover threshold limit has been increased to Rs. 5 crores for business under section 44AB where at least 95 per cent turnover is made on digital transactions. 



This turnover limit for compulsory tax audit has been further increased to Rs. 10 crore vide Finance Act, 2021.


In the case of a person carrying on the profession, he is required to get his accounts audited, if his gross receipt in profession exceeds, Rs. 50 lakh in the previous year.


Finance Act, 2020 has made further changes in tax audit report filing due date to specify one month prior to the due date for furnishing the return of income under section 139(1).


CBDT Notification on Clause 44 of Form 3CD


Form 3CD of Tax Audit Report (TAR) was amended in July 2018 by Notification No. 33/2018 dated 20.07.2018 inter alia to incorporate the following two clauses - Clause 30C on reporting of GAAR transactions and Clause 44 on reporting of GST transactions.


30C. (a) Whether the assessee has entered into an impermissible avoidance arrangement, as referred to in section 96, during the previous year? (Yes/No.)


(b) If yes, please specify:—


(i) Nature of impermissible avoidance arrangement: 


(ii) Amount (in Rs.) of tax benefit in the previous year arising, in aggregate, to all the parties to the arrangement:


44. Break-up of total expenditure of entities registered or not registered under the GST:



Sl NoTotal amount of Expenditure incurred during the yearExpenditure in respect of entities registered under GSTExpenditure relating to entities not registered under GST
Relating to goods or services exempt from GSTRelating to entities falling under composition schemeRelating to other registered entitiesTotal payment to registered entities
(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)

Study of Clause 44 of Form 3CD


Clause 44 of Form 3CD requires reporting of the total amount of expenditure incurred during the previous year.


The heading of clause 44 requires reporting of the break-up of the total expenditure incurred. Hence, head-wise reporting of total expenditure is required to be reported in Form 3CD under this clause.


Further, this clause is required to be reported by all the reporting assessees whether the assessee is registered under GST or not. Thus, even if a person is not registered under GST, a break-up of total expenditure in the prescribed table is required to be furnished.


Analysis of column (1) of the table, which requires mention of the serial number, suggests that expenditures are required to be reported in a head-wise manner. Otherwise, if it is interpreted to be a consolidated figure, there is no requirement to mention the serial number in the table. The Form 3CD utility provides for adding rows more than one. However, the possibility of a contrary alternative view cannot be ruled out.


Furthermore, reporting under this clause is required for all the expenditure-revenue expenditure as well as capital expenditure.


These amount of expenditures is further required to be segregated into different components as specified in column (3) to column (7) of the table of clause 44.


Columns (3) to (6) require to report how much of the total expenditure as reported in column (2) is attributed to GST-registered entities and column (7) requires to report how much of the total expenditure as reported in column (2) is attributed towards entities unregistered with GST.


Column (3) of the table under clause 44 of Form 3CD requires to report how much of total expenditure as reported in column (2) is related to goods or services exempt from GST. In other words, this column requires to disclose expenditure exempt under GST.


Column (4) of the table under clause 44 of Form 3CD requires to report how much of total expenditure as reported in column (2) is related to entities falling under the composition scheme of GST. In other words, this column requires to disclose expenditure incurred with GST composition dealers.


Column (5) of the table under clause 44 of Form 3CD requires to report how much of total expenditure as reported in column (2) is related to entities registered with GST. In other words, this column requires to disclose expenditure incurred with GST registered dealers.


Column (6) of the table under clause 44 of Form 3CD requires to report how much payment was made to GST-registered entities in the previous year.


Column (7) of the table under clause 44 of Form 3CD requires to report how much of total expenditure as reported in column (2) is related to entities not registered with GST. In other words, this column requires to disclose expenditures incurred with unregistered persons.


History of Clause 44 of Form 3CD abeyance


The said notification of 2018 came into force from 20th August, 2018. Hence, any tax audit report which was required to be filed on or after 20.08.2018 requires reporting of total expenditure as per clause 44 of the Form 3CD.


The notification related to the amendment of Form 3CD incorporating Clause 44 thereto was issued on 20th July, 2018 whereas, Clause 44 was made applicable one month thereafter from 20.08.2018.


The reporting requirement in clause 44 requires compilation and arrangement of huge data. A sudden introduction of such a clause in the mid of the financial year having implication of voluminous data would cause immense hardships to tax auditors as well as the assessee, more particularly, when the accounting records were not kept in that manner.


Hence, representations were made before the Board to consider the genuine hardships of the taxpayers and to keep the operation of this clause in abeyance till the next financial year.


On 17th August 2018, CBDT issued an Order under section 119 of the Act vide Circular No. 06/2018 to keep the operation of Clause 44 in Form 3CD in abeyance till 31st March, 2019. 


During August 2018, the season for filing the tax audit reports with Form 3CD for the financial year 2017-18 (AY 2018-19) was going on. With this abeyance order, the applicability of clause 44 was deferred to FY 2018-19.


In May 2019, the CBDT again deferred the implementation of clause 44 of Form 3CD till March 31, 2020 to make these clauses applicable from April 1, 2020 vide CBDT Circular No. 09/2019 dated 14.05.2019.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the country-wide lockdown imposed in March 2020, CBDT again extended the applicability date of Clause 44 of Form 3CD by an Order u/s 119 dated 24.04.2020 issued vide Circular No. 10/2020 dated 24.04.2020 till March 2021.


Again, CBDT vide an Order dated 25th March, 2021 deferred and postponed the reporting requirement of Clause 44 related to GST in Form 3CD of Tax Audit Report from 31.03.2021 to 31st March, 2022. This Order dated 25th March 2021 is issued vide a Circular No. 05/2021 dated 25.03.2021.


Thereafter, no Order of the Board extending the applicability of Clause 44 of Form 3CD from 31.03.2022 is issued.


Clause 44 of Form 3CD: Applicability for AY 2022-23 (FY 2021-22)


The text of Circular No. 5/2021 dated 25.03.2021 defers the applicability of clause 44 in the following words-


In view of the prevailing situation due to COVID-19 pandemic across the country, it has been decided by the Board that the reporting under clause 30C and Clause 44 of the Tax Audit Report shall be kept in abeyance till 31st March, 2022.


The above language of the Order creates confusion as to whether the applicability of Clause 44 of Form 3CD shall be in abeyance till all the tax audit reports are furnished till 31st March 2022 or the abeyance is applicable for the year ending on 31.03.2022 and consequently till FY 2021-22.


Presently, the tax audit report along with Form 3CD needs to be furnished for FY 2021-22 after 31.03.2022.


This gets clarified if we read the language of the Order of 2018 that was issued for the first time after the introduction of clause 44 in Form 3CD. In that Order, it was clearly written that “reporting under the proposed clause 30C and proposed clause 44 of the Tax Audit Report shall be kept in abeyance till 31st March, 2019. Therefore, for Tax Audit Reports to be furnished on or after 20th August, 2018 but before 1st April, 2019, the tax auditors will not be required to furnish details called for under the said clause 30C and clause 44 of the Tax Audit Report.


The abeyance on the applicability of clause 44 was given for furnishing of tax audit reports with Form 3CD up to 31st March 2019. TAR furnished on or after 1st April, 2019 shall be required to be furnished with clause 44. It was a fact that up to 31.03.2019, TAR for FY 2017-18 could have been furnished. From 1.4.2019, tax audit reports for FY 2018-19 had to be furnished.


Though the requirement was also deferred and the same is continued till 31.03.2022. Hence, the abeyance of applicability of clause 44 was available till 31.03.2022 for all the tax audit reports required to be furnished till that date.


In the absence of any further abeyance order, tax auditors will be required to furnish details called for under clause 44 of Form 3CD of the Tax Audit Report if furnished on or after 01.04.2022.


As per rule, tax audit reports for the FY 2021-22 or AY 2022-23 needs to be furnished on or after 01.04.2022. 


Based on the above discussion, it can be concluded that Clause 44 of Form 3CD required to be furnished with Tax audit Report for FY 2021-22 (or AY  2022-23) shall be applicable and accordingly the details of total expenditure for GST registered and GST unregistered persons as required in that clause shall be required to be furnished by the auditors for FY 2021-22 (AY 2022-23).


The deferment of Clause 44 up to 31.03.2022 gives an impression that same is applicable from the period commencing from 01.04.2022, The emphasis of the circular is on reporting requirements and not on any period of the previous year. Thus any report furnished after 31.03.2022 shall comply with the requirement of Clause 44. It means Clause 44 is applicable for the Assessment Year 2022-23 (or FY 2021-22).


Technically speaking, not only FY 2021-22, if any tax audit report with Form 3CD is furnished on or after 1st April, 2022 even for any financial year prior to FY 2021-22 needs to have complied with the requirements of clause 44 of Form 3CD. Since, as stated above, from 1st April, 2022, tax audit reports for FY 2021-22 will be filed, such reports must adhere to the requirements of clause 44 of Form 3CD.

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