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Tax Department to publish list of service tax defaulters
October, 06th 2014

The revenue authority plans to prepare a list of service tax defaulters and publish it. This is part of the arrear recovery plan for all indirect taxes, such as customs duty, excise duty and service tax.

“In service tax law, provision is available for publication of the names of defaulters, list should be prepared,” minutes of the conference of the Chief Commissioners and Director General, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) said. Zone-wise lists of defaulters of custom and excise duty are already in the public domain with an advice to pay dues immediately.

The service tax authorities got the power last year to arrest and prosecute service tax evaders And a number of arrests have already been made. It may be noted that at the end of 2012-13, there were over 17 lakh registered service tax assessees, but only seven lakh were filing returns on a regular basis. The Finance Ministry considers the rest as evaders, and many of these are also considered defaulters.

As on March 31, 2014, the total indirect tax arrears stood at around Rs. 1.50 lakh crore. Out of this, arrears of approximately Rs. 73,000 crore have been stayed by various authorities. Further, little over Rs. 50,000 crore is involved in cases where recovery has been restrained by the authorities, i.e., the Board for Industrial and Finance Reconstruction (BIFR), Debt Recovery Tribunal and Official Liquidator (OL) appointed by courts etc., or cases in respect of which the initial appeal period is not yet over.

The tax authorities also said that arrears of little over Rs. 5,300 crore are not recoverable, as in those cases the assesses are either not traceable or do not have assets from which recovery can be made. After deducting all these, over Rs. 20,200 crore can be termed as recoverable.

According to the action plan, the indirect tax officials have also been asked to focus on recoverable arrears.

The other key features of the plan include filing of revised affidavits for first charge with BIFR and OL, details of untraceable defaulters to be electronically forwarded to nodal officers for taking it up with Financial Intelligence Unit and setting up committees by Chief Commissioners to write off cases expeditiously, filing of petitions for early hearing in CESTAT (Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal) besides others.

Strong arrear recovery is part of revenue augmentation which also includes audit, anti-evasion, adjudication, scrutiny and the third party information.

All these are critical as the Ministry has a set a target of Rs. 6.23 lakh crore to be mobilised through indirect taxes, which requires a growth rate of 25.8 per cent. However, in the first five months (April-August), collections grew by just 4.6 per cent.

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