The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) has directed its field officials not to proceed with the recovery of a "confirmed" demand in relation to indirect taxes if the matter has been stayed, providing significant relief to industry.
"In cases where the stay application is pending before the Commissioner (Appeals) or CESTAT for periods prior to August 6, 2014, no recovery shall be made during the pendency of the stay application," the apex indirect taxes body said in a circular issued on Monday.
A confirmed demand of tax arises when, after examining submissions of a tax payer, an order is issued validating the claim made on the assessee.
The government had amended the law on the issue on August 6, 2014, providing for a fixed payment of 7.5% or 10% of the tax demand in case the assessee decides to challenge a tax decision, providing clarity on how much could be demanded as a pre-deposit before the appeal is filed.
The Central Board of Excise & Customs circular now makes it clear that no recovery action can be taken if the assessee has taken this recourse after making the due deposit.
Where the demand is confirmed by the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) or high court, recovery proceedings may be initiated 60 days from the date of the order, provided that no stay is in operation, it said.
"The said circular has been issued to ensure that the assessee gets adequate opportunity to appeal before recovery proceedings are started in indirect taxes. The circular would also bring uniformity in practice regarding recovery of confirmed demands of tax," according to an official statement. Experts said that this brings clarity to taxpayers on the issue.
"The Central Board of Excise & Customs circular has objectively clarified as well as provided for guiding principles to revenue in liberalising the time period for recovery of confirmed demands on matters of litigation," said Nitish Sharma, a partner at Nangia & Co.