Govt steps up pedal to avert failure of Sabka Vishwas scheme

New Delhi, Nov 11 (IANS) The government has decided a personal contact programme with members of trade and industry to ensure the success of its Sabka Vishwas (Legacy Dispute Resolution) Scheme, 2019 that allows firms to settle old cases related to excise and service tax.

According to sources in the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), an intensive outreach programme has been started with instructions to the Principal Commissioners/Chief Commissioners of CGST to proactively contact taxpayers numbering about 1.8 lakh and bring them under the dispute resolution scheme.

Even though the scheme is open for limited period and would end on December 31, a mid-term review has revealed that only an amount of Rs 5,472 crore (inclusive of pre-deposit amount of Rs 4,225 crore) has so far been declared. The government’s effort now is to maximise declarations so as to prevent its failure. The earlier black money declaration schemes of the government had also met with tepid interest.

The Sabka Vishwas Scheme announced in the budget seeks to unlock over Rs 3.6 lakh crore involved in pending cases related to excise duty and service tax. The resolution-cum-amnesty scheme offers relief varying from 40 per cent to 70 per cent of the tax dues for cases other than voluntary disclosure cases, depending on the amount of tax dues involved.

To make the most of the time left before the scheme ends, the CBIC has told its field formations that their performance would be adjudged in terms of their outreach and ability to persuade the taxpayers to avail the scheme. Top officials are monitoring the progress on daily basis.

Senior officials in CBIC said that they were confident that the scheme would gain momentum in the coming days as the taxpayers would not forego this opportunity.

Under the scheme, relief is to the tune of 70 per cent of the duty involved if the amount is Rs 50 lakh or less and that of 50 per cent if the amount is more than Rs 50 lakh. This is for cases pending in adjudication or appeal or in investigation and audit. In cases of outstanding arrears of revenue, the relief is 60 per cent of the duty amount if it is Rs 50 lakh or less and 40 per cent if it is more than Rs 50 lakh. In all cases, there is full waiver of interest and penalty and exemption from prosecution. There are, however, some exclusions such as if the person is convicted in the same case.

While launching the scheme, it was seen that a total Rs 3.6 lakh crore is locked up in 1.83 lakh cases at various quasi-judicial, appellate and judicial forums under service tax and central excise put together. This includes cases under investigation, adjudication as well as arrears of confirmed demand. These cases invariably drag on for years, burdening the taxpayers, especially those in the MSME sector. Introduction of GST which has subsumed these legacy taxes has given an opportunity to Government and also to taxpayers to settle these cases.

–IANS

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