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Andhra Pradesh high court grants interim stay on indirect tax recovery move
January, 12th 2013

The Andhra Pradesh high court has given a major reprieve against the recent circular issued by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), which directed that recovery proceedings would be initiated if a stay is not obtained by the taxpayer within 30 days. The court has passed a brief one-page order granting interim stay of recovery till the appellate authority disposes of the stay application.

Ultratech Cement had approached the AP high court for a stay of the CBEC circular. "The court has held that no coercive action should be taken by the indirect tax authorities till the time the stay petition is disposed of by the appellate authorities. This is good news," said Sunil Gabhawalla, a chartered accountant. "However, ground level problems will continue till such time the circular is withdrawn by the CBEC. Whenever, recovery proceedings begin before the stay application has been heard, the taxpayer concerned will have to approach courts to seek similar relief," Gabhawalla added.

The procedure in indirect tax matters covering excise, customs and service tax is that while filing an appeal against a tax demand, the taxpayer also files in parallel a stay application. Prior to the issue of CBEC's circular, dated January 1, 2013, the indirect tax authorities did not resort to coercive action to recover the demand raised, till the stay application was heard. CBEC's circular had sought to change this practice and enable the indirect tax authorities to begin the recovery process, if a stay could not be obtained within 30 days. TOI had reported the development in its edition on January 8.

CBEC's circular had faced considerable flak from taxpayers and industry associations as it is very difficult to obtain a stay within 30 days and also the law itself provides for a six-month time within which a stay application can be heard by the Commissioner (Appeals) or by the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Tribunal (CESTAT). However, given this favourable ruling, tax professionals are hoping that the circular will be withdrawn.

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