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New teeth may let taxman attach evader's property
May, 31st 2008

Pay up your taxes well in time, if you want to escape a show-cause notice from taxmen. The Central Board of Excise and Customs may soon issue a notification that would empower it to provisionally attach property after the issuance of notice.

Government sources told ET a final decision on the proposed provision will be taken only after the law ministry, which is examining the matter, approves it. The government is taking a cautious approach as it could be considered draconian and come under severe criticism from the business and industry.

This is the reason why the provision was not notified till now even though the required legislative change through the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Act was carried out in 2006. However, now it seems the government wants to tackle evasion, which is quite rampant in indirect taxes such as excise and customs, with an iron hand.

The 2006 Act had led to changes in the Customs Act, 1962, and Central Excise Act, 1944. It provided for publication of names of tax evaders, provisional attachment of property during the pendency of proceedings as measures to curb evasion of customs and central excise duty and to facilitate recovery of amounts due as revenue to the government.

It may be pointed that the government has in the past one year taken several tough measures to deal with evasion in excise duty that has seen dip in collections in the last few years.

It not just restricted excise duty exemption benefits to actual production activity and value addition in states such as Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand that enjoyed area-based tax benefits, but also unveiled a production based levy in case of gutkha. Besides, special reporting requirements were placed on units in these areas and gutkha manufacturers.

In fact, the government has armed itself to impose production-based levies in any sector through the Finance Act, 2008.

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