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Service tax circulars will soon be simple and easy to understand
May, 24th 2007

CBEC to consolidate the existing 200 circulars into two comprehensive ones

Service tax circulars are set to get simpler. Following the Rustagi Committee Report on procedural simplifications of service tax, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is planning to come out with two comprehensive circulars, incorporating all the missives issued till date.

The present 200-odd circulars on service tax are likely to be replaced with two circulars. There will be one main circular. In addition, there will be a separate circular for technical clarifications.
According to sources, the CBEC has put forward the proposal to various stakeholders, including trade and industry associations.

Once it ascertains public views on the issue, it will take a final decision. If all goes well, the two new circulars should be out in the coming few months, sources added.

As a first step in this direction, the department has already accepted one of the recommendations of the committee.

Procedural Changes
There will be a separate circular for technical clarifications
CBEC has forwarded the proposal to various stakeholders for study
The board will take a final call after it ascertains public views on the issue
The Rustagi panel has suggested 57 circulars be scrapped and 136 retained
CBEC has been issuing circulars on service tax since 1994...
...but many circulars are said to have created problems
Earlier this month, the department decided to withdraw 48 circulars, clarifications and instructions issued on service tax and procedures, which have outlived their utility.

The committee, which submitted its report in March, had undertaken a review of the numerous circulars issued by the CBEC on matter relating to the CBEC. It has suggested the withdrawal of 57 circulars clarifications and instructions on topics, including valuation rules, Cenvat credit for telephone services, registration of stock brokers and modification of 108 of these on issues like valuation rules, telephone service, insurance and advertising.

The panel had also recommended retaining 136 of the circulars, clarifications and instructions in their present form. These circulars relate to credit card services, Internet telephony, sale and purchase of securities by a broker.

The CBEC has been issuing circulars on service tax since 1994. However, there have been numerous changes in the service tax law. Many of the circulars are no longer relevant and this has created problems for users.

Returning a favour or favouring a return?
The scheme seeks to deliver services at low or marginal cost at the taxpayers doorsteps
Along with small entrepreneurs, insurers & banks will employ themselves to sell products
Tax preparers to get commissions from the I-T dept; they can charge up to Rs 250 as service fee
I-T dept has set up a resource centre to monitor the implementation of the scheme

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