August 15 is gone. We were expecting that the state government will announce the Amnesty Scheme. It has not happened, says Urvish Patel, president of Gujarat Sales Tax Bar Association
GUJARAT: Businessmen and tax practitioners in the state are irked as no action has been taken regarding the announcement by Finance Minister Nitin Patel while presenting the budget of 2019-20 that the state government will bring an amnesty scheme for legacy tax disputes by August 15. There is a sentiment prevailing in the business community that businesses are penalised, if they do not comply to the deadlines for filing of tax returns and payment of taxes, but on the other hand, government itself is not adhering to its promises.
“August 15 is gone. We were expecting that the state government will announce the Amnesty Scheme. It has not happened,” said Urvish Patel, president of Gujarat Sales Tax Bar Association. He also demanded that no harsh actions should be taken in relation to the legacy tax issues. Tax officials are seizing bank accounts of the businesses. Patel said that the scheme should be brought as soon as possible because the backlog piles up every year as more cases are added.
With the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST), various indirect taxes like Sales Tax, VAT, Motor Spirit Tax, Central Sales Tax, Entry Tax, Sugarcane Purchase Tax and others have been subsumed under GST. However, over 20,000 litigations, pertaining to these taxes, have been pending at different stages. Finance Minister Nitin Patel had then said that an Amnesty Scheme will be brought to clear the backlog. Under the scheme, if outstanding amount of tax is paid during the period of the scheme, liberal relief will be granted in interest and penalty. Business with tax demand less that Rs 100 crore were supposed to be covered under the scheme, operative over six months beginning August 15, 2019.
“If businesses do not file returns or pay tax on time, they have to pay a penalty. What if the government itself does not adhere to the deadline it had sought for itself?” said a tax practitioner. He drew attention to the fact that the scheme was supposed to be operational for six months beginning August 15 and so businesses will have less time to avail the scheme.
Durgesh Buch, president of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) said that the issue will be brought to the notice of Gujarat government.