11.07.2022: CBIC to issue SOP for GST summons, notices

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) will soon come out with a detailed standard operating procedure (SOP) for serving summons and notices under the goods and services tax (GST) regime, to prevent harassment of businesses.

Officials told ET the new SOP will also allow the board to closely monitor the GST probe, including its progress and the line of investigation adopted, which will make officials more accountable and the process more transparent.

They said that so far, it had been difficult for the department to draw the line in the absence of a clear code of action for officials. “We don’t have any SOP under the GST for summons and notices, and these are two troublesome things,” said one official, who did not wish to be identified. “Once there is an SOP in place, we can question any breach.”

The draft is almost final, the official said, adding that there have been detailed discussions with field formations and stakeholders, including businesses.

In the past few months, there has been a surge in the number of tax notices being served by GST officials, summoning CXOs, finance chiefs and even chief executives to be physically present for a hearing. Businesses also ended up getting repeated summons.

The official said the proposed SOP will also ensure there is no overlapping of notices between the central and state jurisdiction. Businesses had complained that sometimes they receive multiple notices on the same issue, making compliance difficult for them, apart from consuming a lot of their time. CBIC had been issuing circulars to officials from time to time in this regard.

In May, the board directed its field formulations that tax authorities would face action if a taxpayer is forced to make a voluntary payment of tax during a search, and that recovery of dues should follow the due legal process after issuance of adjudication order, and not during searches.

The move came after increasing complaints against the use of force and coercion by tax authorities for making “recovery” during the course of searches or inspections.

Source: The Economic Times 



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