Develop mechanism for online audit of GST: Parliamentary Panel on Finance

A high-level Parliamentary panel has suggested to the government to look into the possibility of developing a mechanism for online audit in GST, in order to make the process more efficient and less intrusive.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in its report on demands for grants for Finance Ministry’s Revenue Department, which was presented in Parliament on Thursday, has recommended that government should prepare a white list of documents that would be necessarily required for conducting an audit and would thus become a guidance note for the officers as well as the assessees.

The panel gave these suggestions as it noted that assessees are being called to the GST offices for physical appearance, which consumes lot of time of not only the assessees but also the department officials.

The committee further noted that for widening the net of tax deduction at source (TDS) and tax collection at source (TCS), several new transactions were brought into its ambit, including huge cash withdrawals, foreign remittance, purchase of luxury car, e-commerce participants, sale of goods, acquisition of immovable property and virtual digital assets, among others.

“The committee believes that TDS and TCS method has over the years proved to be not only efficient and revenue buoyant but also non-intrusive in nature, which minimises discretion and promotes better tax compliance. While appreciating the initiatives taken by the Ministry thus far, the committee recommends that TDS and TCS coverage should be further expanded so as to cover more transactions involving large amount of cash,” it said in the report.

On the search and seizure operations, the panel suggested that these operations should be handled judiciously with adequate caution.

“It is expected that due diligence is fully carried out before undertaking these enforcement operations, so as to pre-empt legitimate complaints and to ensure due realisation of tax therefrom. The committee is of the view that while stepping up enforcement action against wilful or chronic evaders, honest taxpayers should not be alienated,” the panel recommended.

The committee also urged the government to make the process of filing income tax returns simpler and more taxpayer friendly.

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