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How to Claim CESS Refund in GST?


Compensation Cess (CESS) under GST is a supplementary tax charged on particular goods and services to compensate states for income loss post-GST introduction. CESS is charged in addition to standard GST rates and is applicable to things like Pan Masala, Tobacco, Coal, Aerated Waters, and Motor Vehicles.

Situations, where a CESS refund can be claimed, include extra CESS ITC in the electronic credit ledger, exports of goods or services, reversed tax structure, and CESS paid in mistake. Taxpayers can seek returns for these scenarios by following the approved processes, providing necessary documents, and sticking to the timelines set by the GST authorities.

What is Compensation Cess?

Some items and services are taxed with the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act, 2017. This is called the Compensation Cess (CESS). It is charged on top of the regular GST rate to make up for any income loss that states may have because of GST.

The things and services on which CESS is charged include:

  • Pan Masala (204% of value)
  • Tobacco and manufactured tobacco alternatives (various rates)
  • Coal and similar solid fuels (Rs. 400 per tonne)
  • Aerated water (12% of value)
  • Motor cars (17-22% of value based on engine size and type)

The aim of CESS is to provide relief to states for any loss in tax income for a period of 5 years (till June 30, 2022) after the introduction of GST. GST is a consumption-based tax, and manufacturing-heavy states were expected to lose income; hence, CESS was created to compensate them.

The revenue from CESS is estimated based on expected revenue growth of 14% per annum from the base year 2015-16. The difference between predicted and real income is paid to states as compensation.

Situations Where CESS Refund Can Be Claimed

Situations, where Compensation Cess (CESS) return can be claimed under GST, cover different scenarios:

  • Exports of Goods or Services: Exporters can claim a refund of CESS spent on their exports, allowing them to collect this tax amount.
  • Inverted Duty Structure: Taxpayers having an inverted duty structure, where input goods are charged at a higher rate than the end products, can seek a refund of collected CESS Input Tax Credit.
  • Accumulation of CESS ITC: Refunds can be requested for the accumulation of CESS ITC due to nil or lower-rated outward goods, ensuring that unused credits do not impact cash flow.
  • CESS Paid in Excess: Taxpayers can claim returns for CESS paid in excess due to errors or inadvertent payments, correct mistakes, and collect the overpaid amount.

These situations show the freedom within the GST system to ensure that users can collect CESS amounts in different scenarios, promoting fairness and accuracy in tax payments. By knowing and meeting the criteria for these return situations, taxpayers can optimise their tax payments and maintain compliance with GST regulations.

Eligibility Criteria for CESS Refund

To be qualified for receiving a refund of Compensation Cess (CESS) under GST, certain conditions must be met:

  • To get a CESS refund, taxpayers must have completed their GSTR-3B and GSTR-1 forms for the applicable tax periods. The monthly return for reporting outgoing supply is GSTR-1; the return for incoming and outgoing supplies is GSTR-3B. Finding the eligibility and computing the return amount depend on completing these forms.
  • The taxpayer must have collected the CESS Input Tax Credit (ITC) in their electronic credit ledger to be qualified for a refund. CESS ITC can be collected for various reasons, such as exports of goods or services, inverted tax structures, or nil/lower-rated foreign supplies. The collected CESS ITC must be recorded in the electronic credit ledger for the refund claim to be processed.
  • Refund applications for most kinds of returns must be filed within two years after the relevant date, according to Section 54 of the CGST Act. Depending on the kind of return claimed—exportation date, end of financial year, or tax payment date—the “relevant date” varies. To be eligible for a refund, taxpayers must make sure their claim falls within the allotted period.

Documents Required for CESS Refund

To receive a refund of Compensation Cess (CESS) under GST, specific papers are needed to back the refund application:

  1. Copies of GSTR-2A/2B for ITC Verification: Providing copies of GSTR-2A/2B is necessary for verifying Input Tax Credit (ITC) linked to CESS. These papers help ensure that the CESS ITC claim matches with the real credits available in the system, improving the accuracy of the refund process.
  2. Invoices/papers for Exports: Including invoices and export papers is important, especially for refund claims linked to exports. These papers confirm the export transactions and the CESS paid on such supplies, backing the refund claim with real proof of the shipped goods or services.
  3. Relevant Accounting Entries and Bank Statements: Submitting relevant accounting records and bank statements is important to show the flow of funds and transactions related to CESS payments and returns. These entries provide a clear audit trail of CESS-related financial actions, ensuring transparency and compliance with GST laws.

Step-by-Step Process to Claim CESS Refund

To receive a Compensation Cess (CESS) refund under GST, the process includes several key steps:

  1. Determine Eligibility and Calculate Refund Amount: Assess eligibility based on factors like filing returns, accumulated CESS ITC, and relevant time period for receiving the refund. Calculate the return amount correctly to avoid errors.
  2. File Refund Application in Form RFD-01 on GST Portal: Log in to the GST portal, scroll to the Refunds area, and pick the Application for Refund choice. Fill out Form RFD-01 with information like GSTIN, tax time, and grounds for refund. Submit the form online.
  3. Provide Details and Upload Supporting Documents: Include necessary information in the refund application, such as the reason for the refund and the amount to be claimed. Upload supporting papers like GSTR-2A/2B, export invoices, and related financial records for verification.
  4. Receive Acknowledgment with ARN Number: Upon successful filing, the GST portal provides an Application Reference Number (ARN) and sends it to the registered email and mobile number. This ARN serves as a reference for tracking the return application.
  5. Tax Authorities Process Return and Issue Order: The return application, along with linked papers, is given to Jurisdictional Refund Processing Officers for scrutiny and processing. Taxpayers can watch the progress of their refund claim using the site. Once accepted, the refund order is given, and the refund amount is paid by the Jurisdictional Authority.
  6. Amount of Refund Added to Bank Account: Once the taxpayer’s refund application has been processed and granted, the money is sent into their bank account. This step finishes the CESS return process and makes sure the user gets the money back quickly.

Calculation of Refund Amount

To determine the refundable Compensation Cess (CESS) amount, the formula usually involves finding the difference between the CESS paid and the CESS utilised or available in particular situations.

  1. Example 1: If a person paid CESS of $500 on a specific transaction but only spent $300 of CESS for future transactions, the refundable CESS amount would be $200.
  2. Example 2: In a situation where CESS paid on exports is $1,000, and the CESS available for usage on later sales is $800, the refundable CESS amount would be $200.

Recent Updates and Changes in the GST law regarding CESS return.

There have been a few new improvements and changes in the GST law regarding Compensation Cess (CESS) refund:

  1. In the 49th GST Council meeting, it was decided that all remaining GST compensation dues for June 2022 would be paid through the Central Government’s resources and recouped from future compensation cess collections.
  2. In February 2023, the base for computation of compensation cess on different goods of pan masala was moved from ad valorem to retail price. Accordingly, the cess rates were changed.

These changes have the following effect on taxpayers:

  • Pending CESS refund claims for June 2022 will now be handled and paid out of the Central Government’s funds, giving help to taxpayers.
  • The new CESS rates on pan masala based on retail price will impact the total tax liability for producers and importers of these goods.

Taxpayers should stay informed on these changes and ensure compliance with the revised CESS rules to avoid any issues in getting refunds or paying the right amount of CESS.


In conclusion, getting a Compensation Cess (CESS) refund under GST includes attention to specific processes and paperwork. Timely filing of returns, correct calculation of refund amounts, and submission of necessary papers are crucial for a good refund process. Ensuring eligibility, giving information correctly, and utilising the CESS Input Tax Credit (ITC) suitably are key factors in getting refunds.

Efficiently navigating the GST site, getting notice with an Application Reference Number (ARN), and allowing tax authorities to process the return are vital steps. Ultimately, the refund amount transferred to the bank account represents the end of the CESS return process, stressing the importance of compliance, correctness, and quick actions to enhance cash flow and ease tax-related transactions.

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