GST Council at next Cabinet meet: Adhia

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The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) might be renamed the Central Board of Indirect Taxes (CBIT), as part of an organisational restructuring after national goods and services tax (GST) regime is rolled out, targeted for the next financial year.

The body is to work with the soon-to-be-formed GST Council and the finance ministry on the change. And, a legacy division will look into pending service tax and excise cases for five years.

After ratification and approval for the Constitutional amendment to enable a GST, the government has started the process of setting up the GST Council. The proposal is likely to come before the next Cabinet meeting, revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, said. The Cabinet meeting is likely to be held next week.

The rehaul in CBEC will also revise the roles of its members and field officers, said an official. The GST Council, chaired by the finance minister with minister of state and state finance ministers as members, will decide the GST rate and prepare a model Bill for implementation of the new tax regime.

The CBIT might comprise six members — for GST, customs, information technology, policy & infrastructure, central excise & legacy issues, personnel & vigilance, and audit.

To ensure continuity to an extent, with several cases of service tax and excise duty pending at various levels, a legacy division will be formed for a period of five years. According to the report of the finance ministry for 2015-16, as many as 27,451 cases of service tax and excise duty were pending as on December 2015. However, early this year, the department identified about 7,300 indirect tax cases for withdrawal, being under the revised threshold limits. “Some level of continuity will be required for some years at least to handle the pending cases. The legacy Commissionerate will look into that,” said an official.

The revenue department adjudicated well over 100,000 indirect tax cases in 2015-16, although the aim now is to focus on 13,500 cases older than a year, pending up to the principal commissioner level. Total pendency is 60,000 cases up to the principal commissioner level.

In addition, every state will be divided into smaller bits, called GST Range, with 1,000 assessees. These will be grouped to form a GST division serving 5,000 assessees.

GST will subsume most central and state taxes such as value added tax, excise duty, service tax, central sales tax, additional customs duty and special additional customs duty. The Centre aims to implement the uniform indirect tax regime from April 1, 2017.

The Directorate General Of Central Excise Intelligence will be renamed Directorate General of Indirect Tax Intelligence. A National GST Risk Management Centre is also proposed, headed by someone of the rank of Director General, to identify, develop and update risk parameters in relation to trade, commodities, services and all stakeholders in the domestic supply chain.

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