Please ease the process of getting FIRC/e-FIRC for small online freelancers and bloggers

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Dear Sir,

I would like to bring your attention to the unorganized sector of small online service exporters in India such as freelancers and bloggers like myself who receive their payments through platforms like Upwork.com and PayPal.com. We are facing some issues in regard to foreign remittances that we receive.

According to the good old Service Tax Law (and the present GST Law that subsumes it), all exports are exempt or zero rated. But in order to "prove" our export and thus gain exemption, we need the bank's FIRC (Foreign Inward Remittance Certificate) for every inward remittance that we receive in our banks.

Now, getting this FIRC is really very tedious in practice. For example, PayPal's remittance happens through their own bank (Citi Bank) and then transferred from there to the freelancer's account through NEFT. Since only the bank that does the Forex conversion can issue the FIRC according to RBI norms, in order to get an FIRC, the freelancer has to approach their own local bank and ask it to get in touch with Citi Bank to get the FIRC. This indirect process is cumbersome and costly considering the typically small amounts of remittance we receive.

My humble request is:

1. Ease the process of getting the FIRC for a small exporter. In this digital age when we get bank statements and transaction records through email, why can't we get an e-FIRC too when a foreign inward-remittance happens?

2. If above is not possible for any reason, please bring an amendment in GST Law so that small freelancers are waived from the requirement of keeping an FIRC for proving their export of services. Instead, they can ask us to submit the UTN (Unique Transaction Number) of bank transaction which should also act as an evidence of foreign remittance. Or, something else such as our Upwork statement or PayPal invoices.

What I am requesting on behalf of all small exporters and freelancers is inline with your "Make in India" campaign. Exports are one of the pillars of GDP growth and progress of a country, and I sincerely hope that you will extend your full support in solving this issue for us.

Thanks,

Parikshit Kulkarni



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