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Service tax amnesty scheme: Govt. cannot get more liberal than this, says FM

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Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram speaks at the Service Tax Voluntary Complaince Encouragement Scheme meeting of trade and commerce in Hyderabad on Wednesday . - Photo: P V Sivakumar
Business Line Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram speaks at the Service Tax Voluntary Complaince Encouragement Scheme meeting of trade and commerce in Hyderabad on Wednesday . - Photo: P V Sivakumar

Describing the amnesty scheme for service tax compliance as a golden opportunity, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, “Unless it is complied, law will ultimately reach you.”

He described the current opportunity to pay up service tax as the one similar to the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme of 1997 and called upon all those liable to pay services taxes to come forward and disclose their dues and pay the taxes.

The Centre has deliberately adopted a benign approach for recovery of service tax. The Government cannot get any more generous than this. All you have to do is pay up now. There is no interest, there is no penalty, there is no prosecution and no questions are asked, he said.

Speaking at an interactive session on Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme 2013 here today, the Finance Minister said that the Government has come forward with such a scheme after 16 years. It is not possible to come up with anything like this again as the Supreme Court has categorically stated that such schemes cannot be encouraged.

It is heartening to note that 17 lakh persons have voluntarily registered for services tax and of this about 7 lakh actually pay tax. He described the rest as no filers or stopped filers. Ten lakh do not either know that they have to pay tax or have stopped payment of axes. In comparison there are merely, 1,20,000 to 1,30,000 excise assesses, he said.

“There is no way one can be a no filer and get away. As ultimately law will reach you,” he said.

Referring to the contribution of services to the GDP at about 57 per cent, he said tax compliance is extremely important. Therefore, he told service tax payees to come lean, be smart and get a fresh start.

“In the last two weeks there has been good response. Of the 9,000-plus declarations received so far, there have been just about 107 rejections. Even these would be reconsidered,” he said.

rishikumar.vundi@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 4, 2013)
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