FinMin raises monetary limit for filing appeals in tax cases

To reduce litigation, the Finance Ministry today raised the monetary limit for filing appeals in indirect tax cases to Rs 10 lakh in appellate tribunal, and Rs 15 lakh in High Courts.

The ministry has also made it mandatory for Principal Commissioners or commissioners to hold a pre-showcause notice consultation with assessee in all cases where duty is above Rs 50 lakh, a statement said.

"The threshold limit below which appeals are not to be filed by the department in CESTAT (Tribunal) and High Courts has been raised to Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh respectively," it said.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has asked officers to withdraw all cases in High Court and CESTAT where there is a precedent Supreme Court decision and against which no review is contemplated by the department.

"The CBEC has taken several measures to manage litigation and reduce disputes," the statement said.

Chief commissioners or principal commissioners have been asked to identify the cases fit for withdrawal among the cases pending in appeal before Custom Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) and High Courts.

The field formations have identified 2,051 and 5,261 cases which are fit for withdrawal from High Court and CESTAT respectively as per the threshold monetary limits prescribed now.

They have already filed withdrawal applications in 980 and 2,174 cases in High Courts and CESTAT respectively. Out of this, High Courts has allowed withdrawal in 250 cases and CESTAT in 202 cases.

Further to ensure quick dispute resolution, CBEC has asked officers for going into pre-showcause notice (SCN) consultation with the assessee in all the cases where duty involved is above Rs 50 lakh.

Detailed instructions have been issued to all field formations regarding the manner, in which an SCN is to be issued, personal hearings are to be granted and speaking adjudication orders to be issued. The chief commissioners have been directed to do sample verification of records of such proceedings from time to time.

"Also training or workshops are being organised to train officers to issue quality SCN, judicious adjudication orders, advocacy, in order to minimise disputes and further litigation. This will assist ease of doing business," the statement added.

Commenting on the move, EY India Tax Partner Bipin Sapra said the measures on litigation management are in line with the recommendation of Tax Administration Reform commission(TARC).

"The pre-showcause notice discussion with the assessee if applied in true spirit could drastically cut down litigation and hence the transaction cost of doing business in India," Sapra said.

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