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Service tax queries: Pending probe keeps amnesty out of picture
April, 22nd 2013

I have heard of the service tax amnesty scheme. Can you please guide me about the salient features ? —Nirav Shah
The Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme, 2013 (VCES), announced in the Budget 2013 is introduced to encourage voluntary compliance from a defaulter of service tax. This scheme will come into effect from a date following the enactment of the Finance Bill.

This is basically to self-motivate defaulters to pay the service tax not paid in the past. Assessees who have not filed returns or stopped filing or who have not made a truthful declaration in their returns are eligible to apply under the VCES. Furthermore, any person may declare his tax dues in respect of which no notice or an order of determination under section 72/section 73/section 73A of the Finance Act has been issued or made before March 1, 2013.

The assessee can avail of the benefit under this scheme for any service tax due or payable under the Finance Act or any other amount due or payable under Section 73A thereof, for the period beginning October 1, 2007 and ending on December 31, 2012, including a cess leviable thereon under any other Act for the time being in force, but not paid as on March 1, 2013.

Assessees who cannot avail of the benefit of this scheme are :-
1.The person who has furnished returns under Section 70 of the Finance Act and disclosed true liability, but has not paid the service tax so disclosed whether in total or in part

2. The person against whom
(a) an inquiry or investigation in respect of a service tax not levied or not paid or short-levied or short-paid has been initiated by way of

(i) search of premises under Section 82 of the Finance Act; or

(ii) issuance of summons under Section 14 of the Central Excise Act, 1944, as made applicable to the Finance Act under Section 83 thereof; or (iii) requiring production of accounts, documents or other evidence under the Finance Act or the rules made thereunder; or

(b) an audit has been initiated.

And any such inquiry, investigation or audit is pending as on March 1, 2013.

The benefits of this scheme are: the assessee who is making a truthful declaration would be granted immunity from interest, penalty and other proceedings. He or she has to deposit at least 50% of the declared dues by December 31, 2013 and the remaining of tax dues need to be paid by June 30, 2014 without any interest. Where the person fails to pay said tax dues or a part thereof on or before the said date, he shall pay the same on or before December, 31, 2014, along with interest thereon, to be calculated from July 1, 2014.

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