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Monday, November 28 2022
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Direct tax amnesty scheme proposed, tight cut-off date suggests desperate move

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New Delhi: In yet another amnesty scheme which will help the government rake in revenues locked in disputes, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday proposed to come up with ‘No Dispute but Trust Scheme’ (Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme) to settle the direct tax disputes.

Under the proposed scheme, a taxpayer would be required to pay only the amount of the disputed taxes and will get a complete waiver of interest and penalty provided he pays the amount by March 31, 2020.

Those who avail this scheme after March 31, 2020 will have to pay some additional amount. The scheme will remain open till June 30, 2020.

“Taxpayers in whose cases appeals are pending at any level can benefit from this scheme. I hope that taxpayers will make use of this opportunity to get relief from vexatious litigation process,” Sitharaman said while presenting the budget for 2020-21.

Given the tight deadline for settling the disputes, this seems a desperate attempt by the government to partly make up for the revenue shortfall in the current financial year. Due to slowing GDP and tax concessions given to companies, the tax collection has been under immense pressure.

Facing one of the biggest tax revenue shortfalls, the government has deviated from its fiscal deficit glide path. It has now pegged its deficit at 3.8 per cent of GDP in FY20 compared to 3.3 per cent set in the previous Union Budget.

Tax experts said that timeline for availing the scheme is quite short and within such short window, companies may not be able to do cost-benefit analysis.

Further, they also need to arrange funds to make the payment.

Currently, there are 4,83,000 direct tax cases pending in various appellate forums such as Commissioner (Appeals), ITAT, the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Neeru Ahuja, partner, Deloitte said that more time may be needed so that companies do their maths and garner funds.

“The timeline appears to be very sharp,” Ahuja said adding that the scheme was attractive and industry had been demanding it.

In the last budget, Finance Minister Sitharaman had announced Sabka Vishwas amnesty scheme to settle disputes of excise and service tax. It resulted in settling over 1,89,000 cases and government received about Rs 38,000 crore. Many big litigants, however, did not avail the benefit and hence a large amount still remains under litigation.

About Rs 1.7 lakh crore was estimated to be locked in indirect tax disputes.

About the proposed No Dispute but Trust Scheme, a tax expert from PwC said that the dispute resolution scheme would be attractive if the taxpayers get relief from payment of taxes based on expected value of final outcome of litigation.

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