Don’t summon top executives in 1st instance, says CBIC – Times of India

MUMBAI: The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has sought to nip in the bud the practice of high-ranking officials of companies being issued summons for seeking routine information, as has been observed in some instances in the past. The CBIC‘s move is a bid to protect taxpayers from undue harassment.
The CBIC issued on Wednesday standard operating procedures (SOPs) to inform field officers that – in the first instance – summons under section 70 of the Goods and Services (GST) Act should not be issued to senior management of any company or public sector unit. These set of instructions list chairperson, managing director, chief executive officer, chief financial officer and other similar high-ranking officials as senior management.
“They should be summoned only when there are ‘clear’ indications in the investigation of their involvement in decision-making process that has resulted in loss of revenue,” state the instructions signed by CBIC commissioner (GST-investigations) Vijay Mohan Jain. “Officers are also advised to explore instances when instead of resorting to summons, a letter for requisition of information may suffice,” add the instructions.
Further, field officers have been instructed that issuance of summons may be avoided to call for statutory documents that are already available in the GST portal. In the past, in some instances, corporate officials have been summoned for seeking documents such as GSTR-1 (statement of outward supplies of goods) or GSTR-3B (summary of sales and input tax credit claims) that are already available in the portal.
In its May 27 edition, TOI had reported that the CBIC clarified to its field officials there is no requirement for mandatory collection of dues during an investigation. This is the second set of instructions.
Further safeguards have been built in – summons can be issued by superintendents only after obtaining prior written permission from higher officials, with the reasons for the need for issuance of summons to be recorded in writing.

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