refund of digital payment charges

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued a circular no. 16/2020 directing banks to refund the charges they have collected on digital transactions after 1/1/2020. Digital transactions could be via internet banking, NEFT, RTGS, or UPI, debit card powered by RuPay, BHIM-UPI. Gist of CBDT circular follows:

In furtherance to the declared policy objective of the Government to encourage digital transactions and move towards a less-cash economy. the Finance (No. 2) Act 2019 inserted a new provision namely section 269SU in the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“the IT Act”), which provides that every person having a business turnover of more than Rs. 50 crores during the
immediately preceding previous year shall mandatorily provide facilities for accepting payments through prescribed electronic modes. Further, a new provision namely section 10A was also inserted in the Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007 (“the PSS Act”), which provides that no Bank or system provider shall impose any charge on a payer making payment, or a beneficiary receiving payment, through electronic modes prescribed under
section 269SU of their IT Act. Subsequently vide notification no. 105/2019 dated 30.12.2019 (i) Debit Card powered by RuPay; (ii) Unified Payments Interface (UPI) (SHIM-UPI); and (iii) Unified Payments Interface Quick Response Code (UPI QR Code) (BHIM-UPI QR Code) were notified as prescribed electronic modes under section 269 SU of the IT Act.

  1. A circular no. 32/2019 dated 30.12.2019 was issued by the Board to clarify that based on section 10A of the PSS Act, any charge including the MDR (Merchant Discount Rate) shall not be applicable on or after 01 ” January, 2020 on payment made through prescribed electronic modes. However, representations have been received that some banks are imposing and collecting charges on transactions carried out through UPI. A certain number of transactions are allowed free of charge beyond which every transaction bears a charge. Such practice on part of banks is a breach of section 10A of the PSS Act as well as section 269SU of the IT Act. Such breach attracts penal provisions under section 271 DS of the IT Act as well as section 26 of the PSS Act.
  2. Banks are, therefore, advised to immediately refund the charges collected, if any, on or after 1″ January, 2020 on transactions carried out using the electronic modes prescribed under section 269SU of the IT Act and not to impose charges on any future transactions carried through the said prescribed modes.

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