We are pleased to release a Tax Alert which gives an update on recent clarification issued by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in F.No.137/46/2015-Service Tax dated 18 August 2015. The clarification is regarding the provisions of Section 73, 76 and 78 of the Finance Act, 1994 and Section 11AC of the Central Excise Act, 1944 after amendments were made vide the Finance Act, 2015.
It addresses issues raised by field formations pertaining to detections made during audit, investigation or scrutiny. Key issues clarified, inter alia are as follows:
1. In cases involving the extended period of limitation, assessee can now make a written request for waiver of issuance of SCN, on payment of prescribed tax / duty, interest and 15% penalty. In this regard, CBEC has placed reliance on the Supreme Court’s (SC) ruling in Virgo Steels.
2. Section 124 of the Customs Act dealing with confiscation of goods / imposition of penalty, provides that the Notice and the representation may, at the request of the assessee, be oral. It has been clarified that a similar requirement already exists in Excise provisions and will now be applicable to Service tax.
3. With regard to short or non-payment of tax / duty, when Department intimates the assessee, orally, of the grounds and quantification, and the assessee indicates in writing, that he has been informed about such grounds and accepts such grounds and quantification, on waiving the requirement of written SCN, it has been clarified that in such a scenario a written SCN need not be issued by the Department.
4. When assessee makes payment of tax / duty, interest and reduced penalty of 15% within 30 days in terms of Section 78 of the Finance Act and Section 11AC of CEA, the assessee can now make a written request for waiver of a written SCN and the thirty days period can be computed from the date of receipt of such a letter by the Department
5. Closure of proceedings can be conducted by the officers of Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) / Executive Commissionerate / Audit Commissionerate. In this regard it is clarified that when assessee is intimated about closure of proceeding, in writing, there is no need to issue an adjudication order.
The clarifications issued by CBEC will reduce litigation as well as paperwork and compliance formalities. If the suggested process is implemented prudently, it will come as a great respite to the industry.