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Arbitration not best way to settle tax disputes: CBDT
October, 14th 2015

Arbitration is not the best way to resolve tax disputes, CBDT Chairperson Anita Kapur said today, stressing that the Indian legal system is fair enough to deal with taxation issues.

"One must understand that if MAP (Mutual Agreement Procedure) works, there is no need for arbitration." she said.

"Because taxation is a sovereign right and with the two competent authorities who represent the two sovereigns cannot resolve a dispute then how would you ensure that the arbitration award will be fair," she added.

"I think we need to live with MAP and also the domestic legal system. The Indian jurisprudence fortunately has world recognition of being fair. So, if MAP can't resolve, if Indian jurisprudence is not able to respond, then arbitration is not the answer," she said at Assocham event here.

The government is locked up in arbitration on Rs 20,000 crore Vodafone tax dispute. While both parties have appointed their arbitrators, they are yet to decide the third one.

As regards Cairn, the government has agreed to join the arbitration for resolution of Rs 10,247 crore tax dispute and will soon appoint its arbitrator.

With regard to black money law, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairperson said that it was intended to be harsh because we were addressing a problem which the normal law was not able to address for so many years.

"We owe it to the country to ensure at least law is clear and the law is stringent so that the menace is handled," she said.

Kapur also said that the department is open to clarifying procedures related to black money law based on the query received.

"We have been issuing FAQs, on compliance window we issued three sets of responses to the queries raised, we are open to issue responses to what you find problematic in the procedures on the black money," she said.

She also said that CBDT was trying to address issues on the administration side but advised the industry not to overplay such issues.

"We do not want to recover taxes which we are not entitled to recover, we want taxes which as per our law we have been obligated to recover," she said.

Speaking on the occasion, Authority for Advance Rulings chairman V S Sirpurkar said that industry and expert should be forthcoming to give suggestions so that law can be made simple rather than criticising.

"There are a number of defects in competition law. I dare say that some of the provisions are just not understandable as how could this provision be should be asked to lawyers," he said

"When the committee invited opinion on (law), they did not gave their suggestion at the time of framing," he added.

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