Vivad se Vishwas: CBDT to collect data on direct tax cases in high courts

The CBDT has set the ball rolling to implement a recently announced scheme to settle direct tax cases by asking its offices across the country to provide it with data on pending appeals in high courts.

The 'Vivad se Vishwas' scheme was announced in the February 1 Union Budget.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which frames the policy for the Income Tax Department, on Tuesday wrote to all principal chief commissioners asking them to collate the data and send it to it by next week.

"In order to implement the scheme, the CBDT needs database on such litigations pending at high court level," the communication to the commissioners read.

"It is therefore, requested that the data on pending appeals at high court level as on January 31, 2020, be obtained with the help of court registry and the same may be supplemented with the records of the field office," it stated.

The CBDT has asked the regional Income Tax Department chiefs to "personally monitor" the exercise and submit the data by February 14 to it through e-mail, as per the communication, which has been accessed by PTI.

The scheme, proposed by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech, aims to settle and see a finalisation of 4.83 lakh direct tax cases pending at various appellate forums such as the Commissioner (Appeals), the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), high courts and the Supreme Court.

Officials told PTI that while the department has data on pending cases at three forums, the information on cases being contested at various high courts needs to be updated.

Under the scheme, taxpayers whose income tax demands are locked in dispute in these appellate forums can pay due taxes by March 31 and get complete interest and penalty waiver. If a taxpayer is not able to pay within the March 31 deadline, the person gets further time till June 30, but in that case he would have to pay 10 per cent more on the tax.

In case it is just the interest and the penalty which is in dispute, the taxpayer will have to pay 25 per cent of the disputed amount till March 31, and subsequently it will be 30 per cent.

Sitharaman also introduced a Bill related to the scheme in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Officials said cases involving serious financial crimes like money laundering, those related to undisclosed foreign assets and where prosecution has been launched under the Income Tax Act and the Benami assets law will not be eligible to be included under the scheme.

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