In a bid to ensure ease of business, the state government has provided opportunity to 7,162 businessmen for “one time settlement” to clear their taxes, which is pending due to on-going legal battle, by introducing the West Bengal Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill that was passed in the Assembly on Saturday.
With the amendment in the in the Bill, a businessman fighting a legal battle with the state government can go for one time settlement by paying 30 per cent of the arrear tax in dispute if it relates to disallowance of any claim of input tax credit in assessment. In case of disputes like “addition of turnover upon assessment or application of higher rate of tax”, one can go for a settlement by paying 60 per cent of the arrear tax.
Amit Mitra, the state finance minister, said: “Basically there are two types of disputes. One is related to input tax credit and the other one is like application of higher rate of tax. At present, the total pending cases, that include both, stands at 7,162 and its assessment value is Rs 6,278 crore.”
Stating that a major reform would take place with the amendment in the Bill, Mitra said the cases are pending for the past 10 to 12 years as the cases keep moving from West Bengal Appellate and Revision Board to Supreme Court. It leads to harassment of the businessmen as they need to run to courts and tribunals. At the same time both the businessmen and the state government need to spend money to fight the legal battle.
“With the amendment, the businessmen would get the opportunity using which they may voluntarily go for the one time settlement by paying the arrear tax at 30 and 60 per cent respectively for the two separate nature of disputes,” he said adding that at present, there are 6,878 cases pending in West Bengal Appellate and Revision Board, 261 in West Bengal Tax Tribunal, 16 in the Calcutta High Court and 7 in the Supreme Court.
The Bengal Excise (Amendment) Bill, which is considered to be a complementary bill to the West Bengal Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, has also been passed in the Assembly on Saturday. With the amendment, additional Excise duty will be in force replacing sales tax on liquor. As a result, there will be Excise duty and additional Excise duty. Additional Excise duty will be of equal quantum to that of the sales tax.
Earlier, one had to go to separate directorate for Excise duty and sales tax. But with sales tax getting replaced with additional Excise duty, one has to deal with only one directorate.