14 Sep 2018

Government sets up office of GST Commissioner (Investigation) to deal with tax evasion

NEW DELHI- The revenue department has created the office of Commissioner GST(Investigation) to deal exclusively with enforcement issues like search, seizure and arrest, as it looks to crackdown on tax evaders.

Initially, the government was going slow on enforcement action to give time to the industry to adjust to the new tax regime. With most of the loose ends tied up with regard to Goods and Services Tax (GST), the revenue department has now decided to focus on enforcement with a view to shore up revenues by checking tax evasion.

As per the instruction issued by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), Commissioner GST (Investigation) will deal exclusively with policy issues and legislative matters, concerning enforcement aspect namely, search, seizure, arrest, prosecution and compounding under GST Act, Excise Act and matters relating to Service Tax.

Commissioner (Investigation) will also monitor the work of Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGSTI) and GST field formations in relating to investigation of cases, search and seizure operations on searches, arrests etc.

Neeraj Prasad has been appointed the first Commissioner in the office of GST-Investigation.

The commissioner will also coordinate with DGGSTI and Direcorate General of Analytics and Risk Management (DGARM) in analysing and disseminating intelligence to the field formations.

It will act as a nodal agency for inter-departmental coordination relating to investigation and enforcement agencies and conduct research and studies to monitor and ascertain modus operandi of evasion.

AMRG & Associates Partner Rajat Mohan said: "Creation of new post for Commissioner (GST- Investigation) indicates that government is serious on weeding out tax evaders and with this new creation they are aligning and empowering a single authority for the quick response on matters related to enforcement aspect especially search, seizure, arrest, prosecution and compounding".

Goods and Services Tax (GST), which subsumed over a dozen local taxes, was rolled out on July 1, 2017. The government has set a target to collect Rs 1 lakh crore monthly revenues from GST this fiscal, but the actual mop up has fallen short of the target month after month.

The sole exception was the month of April in which the numbers exceeded Rs 1 lakh crore. The collections stood at Rs 94,016 crore in May, Rs 95,610 crore in June, Rs 96,483 crore in July and Rs 93,960 crore in August.

Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan Partner L Badri Narayanan said there will be a definite push for enforcement and investigation and for capacity building to deal with evasion in trading of goods post imports.

"These are indications that the government is getting ready for enforcement as more than a year has passed since the roll out of the new tax regime," Badri Narayan said.