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Only 1 case booked in GST era in Pune, tax administration hopeful of curbing tax evasion soon

Goods and services tax (GST) was implemented in the country from July 1, 2017 through the One Hundred and First Amendment of the Constitution of India.

pune Updated: Mar 14, 2018 15:38 IST
Shivani Singh1
Shivani Singh1
Hindustan Times, Pune
GST,tax evasion,pune
A view of the GST Bhavan in Pune. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Pune In Goods and Services Tax (GST) terms, jurisdiction of Pune as a Zone, includes districts of Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and stretches up to Goa; In Pune there are two GST Commissionerates; yet it is the collection of Rs 13,730 crore under GST between July 2017 and February 2018 that ticks the box marked major market.

The statistic during the same period in the GST era, that does not make sense, is this: As of March 14, 2018, only one case of GST evasion, pertaining to gutkha, has been registered by the Pune Zonal unit of the directorate general of goods and services tax intelligence (DG-GSTI), the GST intelligence unit in the city.

Goods and services tax (GST) was implemented in the country from July 1, 2017 through the One Hundred and First Amendment of the Constitution of India. Why then in the past nine months has only one case been filed under the GST regime?

It is the question we took with CGST Officials of Pune Zone.

“Presently, the main focus is tax evasion cases related to Central Excise and Service Tax which would get time-barred if not booked now. So, in the Pune zone, most of the cases being booked are related to the Central Excise and Service Tax regime.If some specific information is received regarding GST evasion, then, definitely it will be investigated and accordingly the inquiry will proceed,” said Rajesh Pandey, additional director general, DG-GSTI (Pune Zonal Unit).

Rajlakshmi Kadam, Deputy Commissioner, CGST, Pune zone and presently in charge of GST training and the outreach, publicity and media cell of the Pune zone says, “Evasion was present in the earlier regime too, but GST will make the entire process more transparent. Earlier, mechanisms to check tax evasion were not efficient enough. GST gives us more power to take action,”

The deputy commissioner also exudes confidence that under the GST regime, evasion will be difficult.

“Evasion was present in the earlier regime too, but GST will make the entire process more transparent. Earlier, mechanisms to check tax evasion were not efficient enough. GST gives us more power to take action,” Kadam claims.

The officials of the tax administration agree that tax evasions are taking place in the market by way of cash payments, but argue that practically, it won’t be possible for the administration to tap each and every case.

“The GST regime is more about self-assessment and self-declaration, so we depend a lot on the traders and therefore consumers need to be more responsible to minimise tax evasion. We have limited manpower and tapping each and every case will be difficult without the cooperation of the traders and consumers. Avoiding tax evasion is not only the work of the tax administration, but everybody has to play their role in it. Per say, for effective implementation of GST, the role of customers is also very important. If a trader offers avoidance of GST, they should deny it and if the trader insists, the customer should file a complaint with the tax administration.She believes that citizens should be aware of their role and responsibilities. ” adds Rajlakshmi Kadam, an IRS officer from the 2010 batch.

Rajlakshmi Kadam, deputy commissioner, CGST, Pune zone (HT PHOTO)

“To check evasion of taxes, we are relying on Audit and the Anti-evasion wing of the tax administration. These are the two major tools with the government to check and prevent tax evasion,” Kadam says.

“The information received through these channels is first verified through the anti-evasion wing of the tax administration and if any substance is found in the complaint, necessary action is taken,” she explains.

In terms of the lack of manpower to check small traders, Kadam says the tax administration relies on informants, that include customers and activists.

In the first arrests under the goods and services tax (GST) law, directors of two companies were arrested in Mumbai for allegedly availing tax credits illegally on February 28, 2017.

On whether Pune will follow suit, the Deputy Commissioner said that cases on similar lines would definitely be made, if required. “Considering the volume of information available with us priorities on the basis of amount of Tax involved and implication of the issue need to be decided for conducting a detailed investigation .This investigation needs to be backed with proper evidences and proofs, if one want to make the case sustainable and hence, tremendous efforts are required,” said Kadam.

City to witness first open house on GST

Senior Officers from the Directorate General of Goods and Service Tax,Goods and Services Tax (GST) Policy Wing, Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), Directorate General of Audit, and officials from SGST and the department of Revenue will be present for the first GST open house on March 16 in the city. This is the first open house being held in the city to understand and redress issues about GST implementation.

It will be open for all and will be held at the MCCIA trade tower at Senapati Bapat road at 10:30 am. The officials will address the queries of traders in this Open House.

“This open house is a part of the proactive steps being taken by the tax administration for the traders and consumers who have any kind of difficulty regarding GST. For this open house, many senior officers from Delhi will be coming down to Pune to communicate with the participants. Members of DG,GST, DG Audit , GST Policy Wing of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) and GSTN will be present at the event,” said Rajlakshmi Kadam, Deputy Commissioner, CGST, Pune Zone.

These open houses are being conducted throughout the country in order to gauge the ground reality of the implementation of GST. Officials will interact with the traders and get feedback regarding the system.

Apart from traders, officials of the tax administration too are facing a few GSTN system related issues and this open house will help get their issues resolved. “Mainly, most of the issues are system related. We try to solve the problem at our end if possible. If the problem out of our purview then GSTN officials are being contacted for taking necessary action.The Open House will help resolve a lot of queries too,” added Kadam.

When: March 16

Where: 5th floor, MCCI, SB road

Time: 10:30 am

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 15:34 IST