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Government plans new return to plug excise, service tax evasion
September, 15th 2014

The government plans to introduce a new annual tax return that will include information from income tax audit report, including TDS and income tax returns, and cost audit report as it looks to draw information from multiple sources to clamp down on evasion of excise and service tax.

Several services - ranging from rent-a-car to air cargo, work contracts, forex dealers and brokers - are proposed to come under the lens by tapping third-party sources for identifying risk factors and improving compliance verification.

In the last Finance Bill, the government had empowered officers to collect information from income-tax authorities, state electricity boards, VAT authorities and Registrar of Companies. In a presentation before chief commissioners last month, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) deliberated upon seeking information from municipal authorities, the telecom and insurance regulators, the RBI, Foreign Exchange Dealers Association of India, stock and commodity exchanges, Regional Transport Office (for tour operators, rent-a-car agencies) registrar of shops and establishments (for coaching classes and fashion designers) and IATA.

The proposed comprehensive returns are also a step in that direction. "The new return will not in any way increase the burden on the assessee. CBEC is considering the proposal," said a senior government officer closely associated with the plan. The move comes even as the board has identified close to a dozen other sources to generate information and match the returns.

Senior officers in the department said the move to introduce the new returns will also reduce the burden on taxpayers and is part of a shift towards the introduction of Goods & Services Tax, a top priority item for the Narendra Modi government.

Currently, for central excise, companies are expected to file monthly returns, which are detailed and put a lot of burden on taxpayers. For service tax, quarterly returns are mandated. Officials said that under the proposed GST, the central and state governments are looking at filing smaller monthly returns that run into 10-odd lines. Annually, companies would be required to file audited returns that provide details of production and other technical issues with the inclusion of income tax return also being looked at.

"There have been instances of the same company submitting different information to different agencies. By linking other sources, we will be able to crack down on evaders," said an officer.

In fact, tapping other sources has been identified as a key area for the current financial year's work programme, given the steep tax collection target.

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