Will focus on scrutiny, audit of GST returns in coming year: says CBIC chairman

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Source: Economic Times dated 10.02.2022

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) will focus on scrutiny and audit of goods and services tax returns in the coming year, and ease compliances for Special Economic Zones, its chairman Vivek Johri told ET’s Anuradha Shukla and Deepshikha Sikarwar in an interview. Edited excerpts:

What is the roadmap ahead for exemptions that still remain within customs?

Review of exemptions happen every year in the budget. What we have done this time is to to a deeper review. By that I mean we held very wide-ranging consultations. On that basis we have withdrawn some exemptions. We have kept some on hold where we did not get very concrete inputs, but we have prescribed a timeframe. All conditional exemptions will be up for review, otherwise they just lapse. We are trying to build unconditional exemptions as far as possible into the tariff itself. It provides more transparency and certainty to the tax because it’s not so easy to change tariff rates. It’s much easier to change rates that you operate through notification.

What is the revenue impact of these changes?

For many years now we are not looking at customs as a source of revenue. It is mainly meant to provide some degree of support or protection to the domestic industry, for manufacturing, for exports for MSME’s. Where we are working on the proposal this year, we were not really looking at revenue augmentation through customs. Withdrawal of exemptions is driven more by policy consideration.

GST collections have stabilised now. What can now be expected in terms of GST structure?

The rationalisation of exercise would involve restructuring of the rates. It may involve a review of exemptions. And in the bargain, correction of inversions, whatever is left. Those are three broad aspects that I see as being part of the rationalisation exercise. Personally, if you ask me, I don’t see all these happening together at one go. You have to think of how to arrive at something that does not disrupt your revenues and, in fact, augments your revenues. These are positives and negatives in terms of revenue when you rejig the rates.

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