News archives


Supreme Court imposes penalty on CIT for trying to mislead.

29th August, 2018

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said it was "shocked" that the Commissioner of Income Tax, Ghaziabad presented "false and misleading" facts trying to mislead it and slapped a penalty of Rs 10 lakhs. 

The department claimed a similar case was pending in the Supreme Court since 2012 and that this case be tagged with it.  However the registrar's office pointed out that the old case was already decided way back in Sept 2012. The Apex Court stated that "the Commissioner of Income Tax has taken the matter so casually," and came down hard on the departmental lawyers trying to hoodwink the top court
The petition was dismissed with costs of Rs 10 lakh to be paid to the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee within four weeks.  Read the Judgement


Niti Aayog recommends slash in import duty and GST on gold

It is reported that Niti Aayog has recommended to the government to slash import duty on gold from the current 10% and similarly slash GST on gold from the current 3%. The reason advanced for the recommendation is that this will lead to greater compliance and will also reduce the smuggling of gold.

The committee has also suggested other exemptions on exports and scrapping of commodity transaction tax on gold derivatives and provision for capital gains tax exemption for gold related financial instruments.


To simply GST first step is "remove 28% tax slab", says outgoing CEA Arvind Subramanian

28th June, 2018

Outgoing CEA says first step to simplify GST is to do away with 28 per cent tax slab. 

Mr Arvind Subramanian said “I am saying that in an ideal system the 28 per cent rate has to go. The cesses may have to be there because we are going to have higher rates for some products but there shouldn’t be multiple rates even here. In my report, we had called for one 18 per cent rate and then 40 per cent rate. Cesses are a different way of implementing the 40 per cent rate.”

Currently, there are seven slabs in GST 0, 0.25%, 3%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. In addition there is compensation cess applicable to "sin" or "luxury" goods. All this makes the GST structure both complex and high.

The Union Minister of Petroleum & NG, Mr Dharmendra Pradhan says as petrol and diesel exclusion from GST costs state owned oil industry Rs 200 billion.

7th June 2018

The Union Minister of Petroleum & NG, Mr Dharmendra Pradhan is reported to have said that as petrol and diesel is kept out of the purview of GST, the state owned oil industry is losing Rs 200 billion annually in terms of input credit.

Well, this is true not just for the state owned oil industry but all manufacturers, service providers and traders (entire economy) lose input credit since the petro-products are out of the scope of GST.

Secondly, the credit loss to the industry and trade reflects as tax collected and retained by the Central and State Govt. So any which way the Govt really doesn't lose.

Thirdly, instead of speaking about a long term plan of GST introduction the immediate solution to reduce petrol and diesel prices will be to cut central excise. This will have a snowball effect as it will automatically reduce State VAT as value drops.

Question is, whether the Govt is confident of its finances to reduce central excise.

Isn’t creating jobs a good thing? Should it be taxed?

7th June 2018

Isn’t creating jobs a good thing? Should it be taxed?

When countries are straining to create new jobs to meet the growing unemployment, one wouldn’t think that authorities will impose taxes on jobs.

But this is exactly what the Seattle City Council voted to do. Unanimously by a 9-0 vote.  The new kind of tax called “head tax” will be levied at $275 per employee, per year on “for-profit” companies which gross at least $20 million per year in the city. This tax will become effective from next year i.e. 2019 and will apply to large employers like Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks etc. that will be covered by the parameters set for the tax. This tax is watered down as the initial proposal was $500 per employee.

The underlying reason for the new tax is to create a fund to help the homeless population in Seattle find affordable housing. Another likely reason is that the city has added a large number to its population in recent years. This makes home prices in Seattle one of the fastest growing pushing it out of reach of the poor. Those who support the tax believe that the revenue is needed to build shelters and the head tax is progressive as it falls on those who benefit the most from the growth.

Read the article

No GST on sale at airport by 'duty-free' shops to by International passengers.

4th June 2018

Apparently good sense has prevailed and sale to international passengers at "duty free" shops will become really duty free restoring the position prior to the Delhi Bench AAR ruling.
Admitting that India exports goods and not taxes, the official has confirmed that no GST will be collected by "duty free" shops. A clarification will be issued that these shops only need to collect a copy of the passport from the passenger to whom goods are sold. They can then claim refund of the GST paid on the purchases of goods treating the copy of the passport as proof of sale of goods.

This reverses the position created by the Delhi AAR ruling where it was held that GST will be levied and collected on sale to international passengers. The reason for this conclusion was the sale happens before the goods cross the customs frontier of India and hence taxable.

Govt issues FAQ on "financial services" based on recommendations of the group set up for sector-specific issues.

4th June 2018

In a 32 page FAQ issued for "Financial Services", the Government has clarified several points relating to banking and financial services in GST.

These clarifications are based on the recommendations made by one of the Groups set up to study sector-specific issues.

The clarification in the FAQ confirms that interest charged on credit card dues, additional interest payable on default of loan installment, finance lease and exit fees paid to banks by mutual fund investors will attract GST.

However, free services provided by banks which was the major bone of contention on services such as ATM withdrawals, free cheque books issued will not be taxable.  Also, ATMs are considered as a place of business needing registration under GST. Transactions relating to securitisation, derivatives, future and forward contracts have been clarified as exempt from GST.

Read FAQ issued by Govt.

An estimated amount of over Rs 20,000 crore is pending with the Government as GST refunds to exporters

30th May 2018

According to the Ganesh Kumar Gupta, President of Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO),  an estimated amount of over Rs 20,000 crore is pending with the Government as GST refunds to exporters. More than half this amount is stuck as input tax credit. 

According to Gupta “IGST exemptions are being made time to time which have led to instability. The exemptions should be made on a permanent basis,”. This means input tax credit on inputs and input services cannot be utilised as the final stage becomes exempted leading to locked up credits.

To deal with this situation the Government has organised a "Special Refund Fortnight" from May 31 to June 14. During this fortnight the Central and State GST officials are expected to clear refund applications received on or before April 30, 2018.

Does a taxpayer have a right to change his tax position if he discovers that he accepted a tax liability without knowing an exemption existed? The Revenue argues, No! Even a Single Judge Bench accepts this logic! Fortunately, it is over-turned by a Dvision Bench!

29th May 2018

The Executive Officer Vs Commr of Appeals, Salem :   In this case, a learned Single Judge had rejected the petition on two grounds : 1. The appellant i.e. then Executive Officer of the Town Panchayat accepted to pay the tax and hence he is estopped from questioning the levy thereafter; and  2.  The appeal being filed late it is time barred and there is no provision for condonation of delay.

The petitioner submitted that "there is no estoppel against the statute. ....some of the services rendered by the Municipalities are exempted from service tax under the Mega Notification issued by the respondents 1 to 3."

The Division Bench upheld the petitioner's view that "there cannot be any estoppel against statute and if it is found that some of the services, on which service tax is sought to be levied, are actually exempted from the purview of the service tax. The concession or an admission of liability by the officials cannot be a ground to reject the challenge to the very levy of the service tax."

 Read the article  Read the Judgement

If the principles of natural justice were ignored, mere existence of an alternative statutory remedy can’t bar the High Court from intervening.

Supreme Court Case Law Analysis - Commissioner of Central Excise Vs Grasim Industries Ltd & Ors decided on 11th May, 2018

18th May 2018

A five judge  larger bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court recently examined a reference regarding central excise valuation in general and the relationship between the nature of excise duty and the measure of the duty. This reference arose due to a perceived conflict between two judgements of the Apex Court in the following cases. :

Union of India and Ors. v. Bombay Tyre International Ltd. and Ors.  and
Commissioner of Central Excise, Pondicherry v. Acer India Ltd.

Read the Article

Aadhaar verdict on its validity reserved by Supreme Court after the  2nd longest ever hearing in Supreme Court's history

11th May 2018

A five judge bench of the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on 10th May after hearing Sr. Advocates Shyam Divan and Gopal Subramanian representing a bunch of petitions challenging Aadhaar's constitutionality.  The grounds for the challenge essentially is that Aadhaar Act violates citizen's privacy and is a potential tool for the Government to keep a watch over citizens.

The Aadhaar case hearing  is said to be the second longest hearing in Supreme Court's history since independence. It was heard over four months and arguments covered various aspects including that risks involved in providing bio-metrics were not explained nor citizen's consent obtained. The crux of the case is, whether Aadhaar crosses the line on right to privacy which admittedly is not an absolute right.

12th May 2018

If the principles of natural justice were ignored by the adjudicating authority, mere existence of an alternative statutory remedy cannot bar the High Court from intervening.

In a recent judgement passed on 8th May, 2018, the Calcutta High Court in Sadguru Forwarders Pvt Ltd. Vs Commissioner of Customs (Port) Kolkata has held that since the petitioner was not allowed to cross-examine the witness even though this was specifically asked for, the principle of natural justice have been violated. Accordingly, the order passed by Customs denying cross examination was set aside.

Read the Article

Read the judgement

Malaysia to scrap GST from 1st June - What it means for India?

17th May 2018

The Finance Ministry of Malaysia confirmed that GST will be scrapped effective from 1st June 2018. Malaysia was the last nation before India to introduce a GST at 6%  uniformly on all goods.  In barely three years of introduction, GST in Malaysia became hugely unpopular and was perceived as the main reason for spike in prices. Removal of GST was indeed the main poll promise made by the Pakatan Harapan coalition if voted into power.

Effective from 1st June, GST will be charged at "zero per cent" and later fully abolished when the Malaysian Parliament repeals the GST Act 2014.The recently formed government under Dr. Mahathir has promised to bring back the Sales and Services Tax to replace the GST.

Read the Article

What is the logic for a new sugar cess ?

8th May 2018

GST was intended to amalgamate all indirect taxes into JUST one. We were told its "One Nation, One Tax" (really there are at least 4 taxes - CGST, IGST, SGST and UTGST).  The pre-GST cesses like education, higher education, Swach Bharat, krishi kalyan were all embedded in GST together with central excise, VAT, CST etc. to remove the layering of taxes over taxes leading to cascading. Now there is talk of a sugar cess. This is being proposed @ Rs 3/- per kg. What is the logic for it?

Read More

GST officials are reported to have begun issuing scrutiny notices where sales and purchase returns i.e. GSTR 1 and GSTR 2A did not match.

7th May, 2018

GST officials are reported to have begun issuing scrutiny notices where sales and purchase returns i.e. GSTR 1 and GSTR 2A did not match. If no explanation is received in 30 days, the notices assert that  legal proceedings will be initiated. Reportedly, there is an alleged under payment of around Rs 34400 Cr where Rs 8.16 lakh Crores has been paid when the estimated tax liability was Rs 8.51 lakh Crores. There are concerns that the anti-avasion measures in GST may not be adequate. Yet, this exercise to curb anti-evasion should not hurt business due to any unreasonable approach adopted by GST officials.

The 27th GST Council rings in more changes especially a single monthly return to make GST less puzzling. Sugar cess and incentive for digital GST payment to be determined by 2 GoMs, GSTN to be 100% Govt held eventually

4th May, 2018

GST Council decided to roll out a simplified single in 6 months. Till then old format to continue. The council also discussed the proposal to make GST Network 100% Govt owned instead of 49% currently (equally held by Centre & States). Eventually 100% will be held equally by Centre and States. The Council deferred the decision on sugar cess by setting up two panels of 5 State Finance Ministers (GoMs) to study and recommend on sugar cess and 2% incentive for digital payments.

CBI has arrested & produced in CBI Court four Dy Commr (DCs), a Supdt and a CHA for alleged bribery

2nd May, 2018

Mukesh Meena, Rajeev Kumar Singh, Sudarshan Meena, Sandeep Yadav and one Supdt Manish Singh. They also arrested a Customs House Agent  (CHA) Nilesh Singh in an alleged bribery case where a demand of Rs 50 lacs was made.
Read more

"Duty Free" shops will no more remain "duty free" at international airports

23rd April, 2018

In a recent ruling by a Delhi Bench of the Advance Ruling Authority under GST, it has been held that International passengers on their way out of India will have to pay GST at 'Duty-Free' shops in international airports. In short, these "duty free" shops will no more be "duty free". Click to read more

GST Council keeps RCM on hold till June -  Businesses under composition levy need not furnish related data  

18th April 2018

 GST Council has decided to keep the "reverse charge mechanism" (RCM) on hold till June. The RCM model of taxation is similar though not identical to TDS  applicable in direct taxes. In RCM purchases made from any unregistered business becomes taxable in the hands of the recipient. This measure is intended to ensure that GST applies universally on all transactions including those from fully exempted businesses. Read more
CBEC not to pursue appeals- Circular dated 10th Feb 2018The CBEC has accepted 63 orders passed by CESTAT, High Court and the Supreme Court and decided not to pursue the matters in appeal. This has been confirmed through a Circular No 1063/2/2018-CX dated 16.02.2018. Naturally, this is a step in the right direction towards reducing litigation. Click to read the circular

 Economic Survey of India 2017-18 being presented by the Chief Economic Advisor Mr Arvind Subramanian





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Budget 2018-19

    Budget 2018-19 Highlights

    Budget Speech : Part A    Part B

    Finance Bill 2018

    Explanatory Memo to the Finance Bill

    Explanatory Notes from CBEC

Letter from Jt. Secretary on Budget Proposals 1

Letter from Jt. Secretary on Budget Proposals 2

Indirect Tax Budget Notifications - Customs Notifications
 Bombay Customs revives Customs Cup Regatta after 10 years

The Bombay Customs Yacht Club which was set up in 1980 by the then Customs Collector Shri J Dutta was revived after 10 years.

On 26th Jan, 2018, Republic Day this year, the Customs Cup Regatta 2018 - Mumbai Harbour Race  was held. There were a total of 42 yachts and 150 participants including customs officers participating in the event.

This brings up glorious memories when an Indian Customs Officer, Mr Gulshan Rai  set sail and circumnavigated the earth. He later went on to receive the Arjuna and Padma Shri Awards.