The new SOP will make officials more accountable and will also make the entire process transparent
Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs
To protect businesses from harassment, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC)
will soon come out with an elaborate standard operating procedure (SOP) for serving summons and notices under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, according to a report by The Economic Times.
The new SOP will permit the board to closely monitor the GST probe, the line of investigation adopted, and its progress. The officials will be more accountable and the entire process will become more transparent. The move comes after a significant increase in the number of complaints against the use of force and coercion by tax authorities for making recovery during the probe has been reported.
"We don't have any SOP under the GST for summons and notices, and these are two troublesome things," said one official, who did not wish to be identified.
"Once there is an SOP in place, we can question any breach."
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In the past few months, there has been a surge in the number of tax notices, which were served by the GST officials, summoning finance chiefs, CXOs, and even chief executives to be physically present. Several businesses also end up getting repeated summons.
The draft for SOP is almost final, the official said, adding that there have been elaborate discussions with field formations and stakeholders, including businesses.
The proposed SOP will also aim to ensure that there is no overlapping of notices between the central and state jurisdiction. Many businesses had complained that they received multiple notices for the same issue, thereby making compliance difficult for them.
In May, the board directed its field formulations that tax authorities would face action if a taxpayer is forced to make a voluntary payment of tax during a search and that recovery of dues should follow the due legal process after issuance of adjudication order, and not during searches.