New Delhi, April 24, 2017

CBIC will fortify and expand intelligence wing to fight tax evasion and black money

In the run-up to the goods and services tax (GST) roll-out, the Central Board of Excise and Customs is set for a major revamp with resect to tax intelligence, information technology, risk assessment, post-clearance audit, taxpayer services, among others.

The Board, which is being renamed as the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), will fortify and expand its intelligence wing — directorate general of GST intelligence — to fight against tax evasion and clamp down on black money.

“There are a lot of areas where maturity of the administration needs to go up. We are not able to perform in those (areas) due to lack of workforce and resources. The GST is one opportunity as it will free up manpower to concentrate on important areas like data analysis, intellectual property, risk assessment, etc,” said a senior government official.

On the fear of redundancy, the official said the growth and promotions of officers would not be affected by the new tax regime. “New work will be carved out. The number of commissionerates will come down, but the number of directorates will go up,” he added.

By the first week of May, the Board will issue notifications about the staff placement. “We will have people in position by June, so assessees will get to know about the tax administration,” he said.

While the number of commissionerates would be cut by a fourth to 101 for the GST, as against 141 for central excise and service tax, the Board is looking to redeploy officers to gain international competence. The number of directorates will go up under the GST regime. For a robust IT network, the directorate general of systems is being strengthened and the directorate general for taxpayer services is being expanded for a greater outreach to facilitate smooth transition. About 60,000 officers have been trained so far.

Every state will be divided into smaller bits called as ‘GST Range’ with 1,000 assessees, and these will be grouped together to form a GST division serving 5,000 assessees. There will be 3,969 such ranges. There is likely to be new divisions under customs. A division on dispute resolution, capacity building and compliance measures is also being deliberated.

The CBEC administers service tax, customs duty and excise duty. The GST, expected to be rolled out from July 1, will subsume service tax and excise duty, which will be jointly administered with states. The Board has raised protest with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley regarding the division of powers with states under the GST.

According to an agreement reached between the Centre and the states in the GST Council meeting, states will administer control over 90% of the taxpayer base whose revenue is less than Rs 1.5 crore and the remaining 10% will be with the Centre. The Board argued that the “skewed division of powers” will leave substantial portion of the workforce without much work.  However, Jaitley assured that the new tax regime will generate adequate work opportunities.

The Board is also working on setting up a National Targeting Centre to intercept consignments and carry out risk profiling.  It will identify, develop, update and maintain risk parameters in relation to trade, commodities, services and all stakeholders in the domestic supply chain, among other things. There may be a division on data analysis and international customs to work on mutual recognition agreements and free trade agreements with other countries.

The government has put the GST rules in public domain. The GST Council will meet again next month in Srinagar to clear the fitment of GST rates.

The post-clearance audit is another area to be strengthened. “Today, there is a lot of emphasis on improving facilitation levels without inspection and examination. So, there must be simultaneous strengthening of post-clearance audit. If you are opening doors, we should also focus on revenue and security,” said another official.

[The Business Standard]