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Service tax defaulters rush as amnesty deadline comes to end
December, 30th 2013

The next two days may see a large number of applications from service tax defaulters as deadline for the first-of-its-kind amnesty scheme ends on Tuesday.

The Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme (VCES), which came into effect from May 10, allows a service tax defaulter to pay dues without any penalty or late payment charges. Under the scheme, a person may make a declaration to the designated authority on or before December 31.

"We expect a large number of applications before the last date of offer on Tuesday. All officers are fully geared up to manage the rush," a Finance Ministry official said.

Over 21,000 applications involving tax amount of about Rs 3,762 crore have been filed, according to a latest official data.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram recently said that schemes like VCES are rare opportunities which are unlikely to come again in the next 20 years. He had suggested tax evaders to take benefit of the amnesty scheme.

"Countdown has begun and the last date is December 31. Government has made a fair and generous offer, a one-time offer that is not likely to come your way for at least a couple of decades. Therefore, it is in the best interest of everyone to take advantage of the offer," he had said.

A defaulter may declare his due tax liabilities, including the cess charges, for a period between October 1, 2007 and December 31, 2012 and pay it to the government after making a truthful declaration and can avoid penalty, interest or any other penal proceedings.

The scheme was introduced by Chidambaram while presenting budget for 2013-14.

Of the 17 lakh registered assesses under Service Tax, only seven lakh were filing returns, Chidambaram had said.

An evasion of service tax of Rs 50 lakh and above has now been made a cognisable offence after the passage of current fiscal's Finance Bill on May 10. The Finance Minister has proposed provisions of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to arrest such offenders in 2013-14 budget, in line with customs and central excise laws.

Earlier, the officials did not have any power to arrest a person for service tax evasion.

The ministry has set an indirect tax collection target of Rs 5.65 lakh crore for 2013-14, through customs, excise and service tax, up from Rs 4.73 lakh crore collected in the last fiscal.

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