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Service tax defaulters: Finance Ministry to publicise amnesty scheme
September, 02nd 2013

Buoyed by initial response from service tax defaulters declaring to pay Rs 650 crore to the government, the Finance Ministry has decided to publicise its first-of-its-kind amnesty scheme more on various visual and print media platforms to encourage others.

It has started giving advertisements on television, newspapers and radios besides putting hoardings outside some of its allied offices to publicise Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme (VCES)--for service tax defaulters to pay their dues without any penalty or late payment charges, officials said.

The ministry is considering to publicise the scheme more through other modes of communication and finalising its plan in this regard, they said.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram has already given a stern warning to service tax defaulters to either take advantage of the voluntary compliance scheme and come clean or face punishment.

As many as 1,400 declarations have been filed under the scheme by defaulters liable to pay Rs 650 crore to the government, according to latest data.

The VCES announced by Chidambaram in his Budget speech has come into effect from May 10.

The objective of the scheme is to encourage disclosure of tax dues and compliance of service tax law by the persons who have not paid service tax dues for the period from October, 2007 to December, 2012, either on account of ignorance of law or otherwise.

On payment of the tax dues relating to the said period there will be complete waiver of interest, penalty and other proceedings or consequences, the officials said.

Under the scheme, a person may make a declaration to the designated authority on or before December 31, 2013.

The Finance Ministry has decided to go after about 12 lakh service tax assesses who had stopped filing returns.

In a related development, the Finance Ministry has also started sending letters to service tax, customs and excise duty defaulters asking them to come clean on certain dubious transactions carried out by them.

The aim behind sending such letters is to remove bureaucratic hassles and develop faith in people about tax authorities, they said.

The Finance Ministry has set indirect tax collection target of Rs 5.65 lakh crore for 2013-14, up from Rs 4.73 lakh crore in the last fiscal.

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