The government plans to hasten the adjudication of service tax, excise and customs cases older than a year. These should be disposed first, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia has told the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT).
The revenue department adjudicated well over 100,000 indirect tax cases in 2015-16. There are presently 13,500 cases older than a year, pending up to the level of principal commissioner. Total pendency is 60,000 cases.
“We have written to all zonal members to take up older cases first. This will clear the backlog and improve the business environment. We cleared 112,000 adjudication cases last year, which is only expected to improve in the current financial year,” said an official. The service tax department is also working out a separate mechanism to fast-track adjudication of cases where the amount involved is at least Rs 10 crore.
CASE IN POINT 100,000: The number of indirect tax cases adjudicated by revenue department in 2015-16 13,500: The number of cases older than a year, pending up to the level of principal commissioner 60,000: Total pendency of cases
CESTAT hears appeals against orders or decisions by the commissioners of customs and excise relating to service tax, customs and central excise. As of December 2015, the pendency at tribunal level was 77,501, worth at least Rs 16,000 crore, of which 19,854 cases were accounted for by department appeals worth Rs 2,389 crore.
The Central Board of Excise and Customs has also identified 7,300 indirect tax cases it plans to withdraw from the high courts and CESTAT. The disputed tax here is below the threshold limit set in December at Rs 10 lakh for CESTAT and Rs 15 lakh for high courts.
The government has also come out with a new appraisal system for tax officials, where the aim is to focus on the quality of orders issued. In the revised format, performance of the assessing officers will also be specifically measured for quality of assessment, the pace of disposal and efforts on widening the tax base. “Fast tracking and time bound adjudication is a long-pending need. However, it is important that adjudication is approached judiciously. This will greatly help taxpayers and reduce uncertainties in their tax positions,” said Saloni Roy, senior director, Deloitte.