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March 6, 2001                                       Feedback  

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VDS simplifies levy on excise, customs duty

Santosh Tiwary

The Budget for 2001-02 has simplified payment of any short levy on both customs and excise duty by introducing a permanent voluntary disclosure scheme (VDS).

According to a senior finance ministry official, a provision has been made in the Finance Bill, 2001, to dispense with the showcause notices and adjudication proceedings if short levy is paid voluntarily with interest.

He said that assessees at present fearing harassment at the hands of the revenue department officials with the help of show cause notices, did not come forward to accept the short levy on customs and excise even if they came to know about it.

The voluntary disclosure scheme introduced in the Budget would not only remove this fear but also bring in additional revenue to the exchequer, said the official. The whole scheme would also ensure voluntary compliance.

The scheme will not be applicable in cases involving wilful mis-statement or suppression of facts.

Further, the Budget has also simplified the delayed payment of duty. No interest would be payable now if an assessee pays the duty within 45 days of an order, instruction or direction issued by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) under Central Excise Act or Customs Act.

Interest on delayed payment of duty, however, will now be charged from the first day of the month succeeding that in which duty ought to have been paid.

The CBEC is also contemplating to issue clarifications in regard to methods for calculating service tax from various services in coming weeks. Officials said that only the service fee came under the service tax mechanism and any confusion regarding taxation of other activities performed by the service providers was unfounded.

Some anomalies are also likely to be removed. One such anomaly has crept up due to imposition of excise duty on CNG (compressed natural gas) while leaving out lean gas just because it was sold in the uncompressed form. Sources said that fertiliser units using lean gas will now have a price advantage over the units using CNG which needed to be removed.

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