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Half Truth is a Complete lie: Misleading the Nation on Cross Empowerment Issue.
10 October, 2018 Ahmedabad :
Half Truth is a Complete lie: Misleading the Nation on Cross Empowerment Issue.

"A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies." Mark Twain

This is an information age. How easy it is for so many of us today to be indisputably full of information yet fully deprived of accurate information-the Truth. Half Truth is a complete lie. In fact, a half-truth is even more dangerous than a lie. I believe that a lie, you can detect at some stage, but half a truth will mislead you forever, unless and until someone highlights the same and exposes the lies behind the same. Having information and knowing the truth are two different things. And truth will always prevail.

On 5th October 2018, a DO letter was issued by a senior and experienced member of the CBIC issuing instructions to the CGST officers across the nation and clarifying that the officers of both Central Tax and State Tax are authorized to initiate intelligence based enforcement action on the entire taxpayers base irrespective of the administrative assignment of the taxpayer to any authority. The letter further states "The authority which initiates such action is empowered to complete the entire process of investigation, issuance of SCN, adjudication, recovery, filing of appeal, etc, arising out of such action."

The letter further states that "In other words if an officer of Central Tax Authority, initiates intelligent based enforcement action against the tax payer, administratively assigned to State Tax Authority, the officer of the Central Tax Authority would not transfer the said case to its State Tax counterpart and would themselves take the case to its logical conclusion. Similarly the position would remain in case of the intelligence based enforcement action initiated by the State Authorities against a taxpayer administratively assigned to the Central Tax Authority." The member referred to the 9th GST Council meeting dated 16.01.2017, para 28, agenda no 3. (The copy of the said letter is reproduced as a snapshot below for the sake of ready reference.) On the face of it everything looks absolutely normal and convincing. However, this is half the truth. The fact of the matter is that the 9th GST Council meeting was held almost 61/2 months before GST was implemented and thereafter many more meetings took place and during those meetings many issues were brought up by the Centre which were debated in the council.

Interestingly another meeting on the same issue was held 4 months after implementation of GST on 6th October 2017.

Minutes of 22nd GST Council Meeting held on 6 October 2017

The Twenty Second Meeting of the GST Council (hereinafter referred to as 'the Council') was held on 6th October, 2017 in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi under the Chairpersonship of the Hon'ble Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley. (The copy of the said meeting is reproduced as a snapshot below for the sake of ready reference.)

The Agenda Note 9: Proposal for issuing notifications on cross-empowerment for ensuring single interface under GST is reproduced as below

Agenda Note 9: Proposal for issuing notifications on cross-empowerment for ensuring single interface under GST

GST Council in its 9th and 21st meetings held on 16 January, 2017 and 9 September, 2017 had recommended the broad principles to be followed for division of taxpayers between Central tax administration and State tax administration to ensure single interface. These principles were communicated by GST Council Secretariat vide its Circular No. 01/2017 issued under F.No. 166/CrossEmpowerment/GSTC/2017 dated 20 September, 2017 enumerating the guidelines for division of taxpayers’ base between the Centre and States to ensure single interface. It was requested therein that the State Level Committees comprising Commissioner Commercial Taxes (CCTs) of respective States (State GST officers) and Jurisdictional Central Tax Chief Commissioners/Commissioners could take necessary steps for division of taxpayers in each State keeping in view these principles. The State-level Committees were also authorized to take supplementary decisions to implement the decision of the GST Council, keeping in view the broad principles decided by the GST Council. It was also informed that suitable notifications regarding cross-empowerment of State and Central Tax officers under CGST/IGST and SGST Acts respectively were being issued separately.

2. The notifications on cross empowerment under the CGST Act, the SGST Act and the IGST Act along with the supplementary instructions, as suggested by the Single Interface Committee in its interim report, was placed before the GIC for approval in its 10th meeting on 28 September, 2017. The proposed notification on cross empowerment under the IGST Act creates exception for cross empowerment in cases where place of supply is under dispute as per the decision of the GST Council. The States however contended that the issue of place of supply should be referred to the Council and that all three cross empowerment notifications under CGST, SGST and IGST Acts may be taken together in the next GST Council Meeting.

3. It is submitted that there is a broad agreement on cross empowerment under the CGST and SGST Acts. If notifications on cross empowerment are kept in abeyance for want of agreement on IGST Act’s cross empowerment, the effort to ensure single interface would be in vain. Taxpayers are increasingly feeling the heat of delay in grant of refund. If they are required to approach both Central and State Tax Authorities for refund of unutilized input tax credit for exports, it would further accentuate their grievances.

4. Therefore, it is proposed that notifications on cross empowerment, which have been prepared in accordance with the recommendations of the Council, be approved.

5. The three notifications at (Annexure-I) for the consideration and approval of the Council.

These three notifications to be issued under section 6 of the CGST Act ; section 6 of the SGST ACT and section 4 of the IGST ACT for the consideration and approval of the Council are reproduced as below :