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VAT: Promos on consumers' rights soon

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The Chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on VAT, Mr Asim Dasgupta (2nd from right) with Finance Ministers of States (from left) Mr Vinod Sharma (Haryana), Mr Surendra Singla (Punjab), Dr A.K. Walia (New Delhi), Mr K. Ramakrishna (Commercial Taxes Minister, Andhra Pradesh), and Mr Vakkom Purushothaman (Kerala), during a meeting in the Capital on Tuesday. Ramesh Sharma
The Chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on VAT, Mr Asim Dasgupta (2nd from right) with Finance Ministers of States (from left) Mr Vinod Sharma (Haryana), Mr Surendra Singla (Punjab), Dr A.K. Walia (New Delhi), Mr K. Ramakrishna (Commercial Taxes Minister, Andhra Pradesh), and Mr Vakkom Purushothaman (Kerala), during a meeting in the Capital on Tuesday. Ramesh Sharma

K.R. Srivats

New Delhi, April 26

THE Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on Value Added Tax (VAT) may soon switch track and focus energies on educating consumers about their responsibilities and rights under a VAT regime.

The media campaign so far was mainly trader- and manufacturer-centric and focused on explaining the need for VAT and the features of its design. The State-level levy, now introduced in 21 States, was essentially a consumption-based tax.

"Till now, we have been mainly having advertisements that said "VAT is coming", "Why VAT?" etc. at both the State and the national level. There has been no effort to specifically target the consumers. They (the consumers) are also in a way responsible for tax evasion if they for instance do not insist on an invoice for their purchases," Mr Ramesh Chandra, Member-Secretary, Empowered Committee, told Business Line.

Meanwhile, the Empowered Committee may not relent to traders' demand of doing away with the stipulation requiring separate disclosure of VAT rate and amount in an invoice. "We have been silent on that issue so far. We can't agree to their demand. The VAT has to be separately reflected in the invoice," Mr Chandra said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 27, 2005)
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