To collect disputed taxes of pre-GST era such as VAT, central sales tax and entry tax, the Bengal government has introduced an amnesty scheme. According to the industry and tax experts, the scheme will provide multiple benefits to the taxpayers. The central government had announced a similar amnesty scheme – Vivad Se Vishwas – in the Union Budget 2020 on 1st February.
In the state budget presented on Monday, Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra said that more than 25,000 disputed cases were still pending. Mitra said, “I propose to introduce a new and more attractive settlement scheme for all VAT, sales tax, central sales tax and entry tax cases which are lying pending up to January 31, 2020.”
Under the scheme, the taxpayers will get an opportunity to settle their cases by paying 25% of the disputed tax by March 31, 2020. Alternatively, they can pay 25% on half of the disputed tax before March 31, 2020; on the rest, the taxpayers will have to pay 30% in a maximum of six monthly instalments from April 2020. According to a GST consultant, more than 50% of the disputed cases that are mostly legacy cases should be settled in this scheme.
Furthermore, the introduction of this scheme should also free up departmental officers who are otherwise giving their time to these cases. Once the cases are settled, both the department and the assessees can take care of the GST compliance better. From a settlement scheme introduced back in 2018, the state government had collected ₹1,120 crores arrears in disputed tax from 30,000 taxpayers.
The state finance minister also announced a settlement scheme of tax certificate cases, waiver of 50% of compounding fine on motor vehicle offences, waiver of penalty on outstanding motor vehicle dues, waiver of agricultural income tax on tea gardens and relief under Stamp Duty & Registration Act.
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