As year-end nears, tax evaders rush

Shruti Srivastava Posted online: Thursday, Dec 26, 2013 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : With just six days to go before the service tax amnesty scheme closes, the revenue department has been flooded with applications seeking to avail of the opportunity to pay pending tax while escaping prosecution.

The service tax department received as many as 6,821 applications with tax implications worth Rs 957.38 crore between December 17 and December 23. The number of applications received during the second last week of the month is the highest ever since the scheme was launched this fiscal year.

An official said that around 3,300 applications were received between December 10-16, while the total number of applications received till December 23 stood at 21,685 with tax implication of Rs 3,761.62 crore. “We expect it to cross Rs 4,000 crore easily by December 31 when the scheme ends,” the official said.

The Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme (VCES) was announced by finance minister P Chidambaram during the budget 2013-14 to urge the tax evaders to clear their dues.

According to the scheme, a service tax defaulter wanting to avail of the scheme can pay the tax dues in one or two instalments without paying any penalty and interest by filing a truthful declaration. It provides for self-declaration and payment of service tax dues from October 1, 2007 to December 31, 2012. The defaulters have to declare their dues by December 31 and pay 50 per cent of the total amount. The rest is payable without interest by June 30, 2014 and with interest by December 31, 2014. “We have been keeping the office open on Saturdays too during the month as the flow of applications has been huge,” the official said.

Of the applications received so far, assesses involved in sectors including construction, real estate, works contract, manpower supply, renting of immovable property and business auxiliary services are leading the race in seeking the amnesty.

Mumbai, which contributes over 40 per cent of the total service tax collection, has emerged as the zone with the maximum number of assesses seeking to avail of the scheme.