Apropos the edit “Keep GST burden light” (FE, June 22), the worries expressed on certain provisions in the draft GST Bill are not unfounded. While drafting the Bill is no doubt a grand job done, any unjustified burden on the taxpayers is not welcome. This tends to generate a culture of complacency in the tax departments. For instance, under the central excise law, if any duty has been short paid or non-paid, it can be normally recovered for the last one year. However, there is also a provision which enables the department to recover the short payment or non-payment of duty for the last five years, but only when the duty has not been paid with an intent to evade. History has it that the application of this single provision has been the bone of contention in most cases under litigation. And, the success rate of the department has been awfully poor. Sadly, the officers keep sitting for five years and then raise demands alleging intent to evade duty. The courts have been quashing most of such demands on the logic that the taxman was all along aware of the facts of assessment and nothing could be said to be suppressed with intent to evade duty. Equally, the fear of unwarranted discretionary powers suspected of certain provisions in the Bill need to be removed. GST is an opportunity for the tax departments to improve their image and act to enhance voluntary tax compliance, which only holds the key to increase revenue collection.
TR Rustagi, New Delhi