CBDT goes for SOP for Prosecution in cases of TDS/TCS Default

CBDT has released a Standard Operating Procedure for Prosecution in Cases of TDS/TCS Default.
As per the Income Tax Act, all cases where TDS/TCS is deducted but not deposited within the due date, as prescribed, are punishable u/s 276B/276BB or 278A. The present Instructions envisage two categories of cases for prosecution in TDS related offences; the first category is cases which are mandatorily to be processed (TDS of more than Rs. 1,00,000 deducted but not deposited before due date) and the second category is defaults between Rs. 25,000/- to 1,00,000/- which may be processed depending upon facts and circumstances of the cases.

CPC-TDS/TRACES will generate lists of prosecutable cases in accordance with the criteria laid down by the CBDT.

In cases of default in furnishing the quarterly TDS statement, CPC-TDS shall generate the list of such non-filers within one month from due date and communicate to the AO(TDS) for issue of notice and further pursuit.

Procedure for launching prosecution
The AO(TDS) shall issue show cause notices to the person responsible for deduction (directors/principal officers/partners/members/ karta), within 45 days of receipt of the list of prosecutable cases from CPC-TDS in accordance with Sections 278B/278C r.w.s. 276B/276BB of the Income-tax Act, 1961.

In case no reply is furnished within 30 days, it shall be presumed that the person responsible for deduction has no cause to state and the matter may be pursued further.
The AO(TDS) shall examine the reasons/reply for non-compliance and will prepare the proposal in Form ‘F’ (as prescribed in Prosecution Manual) and send it to the CIT(TDS) through proper channel.
While the AO(TDS) will mandatorily refer all the cases of TDS default exceeding Rs.1 lakh to CIT(TDS), cases of defaults between Rs.25000-Rs.1lakh shall be referred to the CIT(TDS) only if he is satisfied that it is a case fit for prosecution.
The CIT(TDS) is the competent authority to accord sanction u/s 279(1).
There is no statutory requirement for obtaining opinion of the Counsel before granting sanction for prosecution. However, given the fact that TDS offences are technical in nature, such reference could be made in complex situations like identification of accused(s) etc to avoid legal infirmities in prosecution proposals/complaints.
The assessee deductor can at any stage of the proceedings, file a compounding application before the Pr. Chief Commissioner of Income-tax/Chief Commissioner of Income- tax. Instruction vide F.No.285/35/2013-IT(Inv.V)/108 dt. 23.12.2014 should be followed in dealing with the compounding applications.
The CIT(TDS) after according sanction u/s 279(1) shall send back the records to the authority seeking sanction with sanction order in duplicate, one for filing in the Court with complaint and other for the record.
The AO(TDS) shall, after entering receipt of the sanction order in the prosecution register maintained by him, ensure that the complaint is launched in the competent Court having jurisdiction over the place where the offence is committed.
CBDT seems to be serious about pursuing prosecution of those who deduct TDS and don’t pay it to the Government.

CBDT Standard Operating Procedure for Prosecution in Cases of TDS/TCS Default.
Sales Tax on Works Contract – Why Constitution Amendment Bill of 1981?
YESTERDAY DDT carried a compilation of the cases relating to levy of sales tax on the sale portion in a works contract. Let us have a peep into how the Constitution Amendment took place. Excerpts from the STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS to the Constitution (Forty-sixth Amendment) Bill, 1981 which was enacted as the Constitution (Forty-sixth Amendment) Act, 1982
Sales tax laws enacted in pursuance of the Government of India Act, 1935 as also the laws relating to sales tax passed after the coming into force of the Constitution proceeded on the footing that the expression “sale of goods”, having regard to the rule as to broad interpretation of entries in the legislative lists, would be given a wider connotation. However, in Gannon Dunkerley’s case (2002-TIOL-493-SC-CT-LB), the Supreme Court held that the expression “sale of goods “as used in the entries in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution has the same meaning as in the Sale of Goods Act, 1930. This decision related to works contracts.
By a series of subsequent decisions, the Supreme Court has, on the basis of the decision in Gannon Dunkerley’s case, held various other transactions which resemble, in substance, transactions by way of sales, to be not liable to sales tax. As a result of these decisions, a transaction, in order to be subject to the levy of sales tax under entry 92A of the Union List or entry 54 of the State List, should have the following ingredients, namely:
1. Parties competent to contract,
2. Mutual assent and transfer of property in goods from one of the parties to the contract to the other party thereto for a price.

This position has resulted in scope for avoidance of tax in various ways.
An example of this is the practice of inter-State consignment transfers, i.e., transfer of goods from head office or a principal in one State to a branch or agent in another State or vice versa or transfer of goods on consignment account, to avoid the payment of sales tax on inter-State sales under the Central Sales Tax Act. While in the case of a works contract, if the contract treats the sale of materials separately from the cost of the labour, the sale of materials would be taxable, but in the case of an indivisible works contract, it is not possible to levy sales tax on the transfer of property in the goods involved in the execution of such contract as it has been held that there is no sale of the materials as such and the property in them does not pass as moveables.

Though practically the purchaser in a hire-purchase agreement gets the goods on the date of the hire-purchase, it has been held that there is sale only when the purchaser exercises the option to purchase at a much later date and therefore only the depreciated value of the goods involved in such transaction at the time the option to purchase is exercised becomes assessable to sales tax.
Similarly, while sale by a registered club or other association of persons (the club or association of persons having corporate status) to its members is taxable, sales by an unincorporated club or association of persons to its members is not taxable as such club or association, in law, has no separate existence from that of the members.

In the Associated Hotels of India case (2002-TIOL-65-SC-CT-CB), the Supreme Court held that there is no sale involved in the supply of food or drink by a hotelier to a person lodged in the hotel.
In the New India Sugar Mills case, the Supreme Court took the view that in the transfer of controlled commodities in pursuance of a direction under a Control Order, the element of volition by the seller, or mutual assent, is absent and, therefore, there is no sale as defined in the Sale of Goods Act, 1930.
However, in Oil and Natural Gas Commission Vs. State of Bihar, the Supreme Court had occasion to consider its earlier decisions with regard to the liability of transfers of controlled commodities to be charged to sales tax. The Supreme Court held that where there are any statutory compulsions, the statute itself should be treated as supplying the consensus and furnishing the modality of the consensus.

In Vishnu Agencies Vs. Commercial Tax Officer, six of the seven Judges concurred in over-ruling the decision, in New India Sugar Mills case while the seventh Judge held the case to be distinguishable.
It is, therefore, considered desirable to put the matter beyond any doubt.
The various problems connected with the power of the States to levy a tax on the sale of goods and with the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 were referred to the Law Commission of India. The Commission considered these matters in their Sixty-first Report and, recommended, inter alia, certain amendments in the Constitution if as a matter of administrative policy it is decided to levy tax on transactions of the nature mentioned in the preceding paragraphs.

Device by way of lease of films has also been resulting in avoidance of sales tax. The main right in regard to a film relates to its exploitation and after exploitation for a certain period of time in most cases, the film ceases to have any value. It is, therefore seen that instead of resorting to the outright sale of a film, only a leased or transfer of the right to exploitation is made.

There were reports from State Governments to whom revenues from sales tax have been assigned, as to the large scale avoidance of Central sales tax leviable on inter-State sales of goods through the device of consignment of goods from one State to another and as to the leakage of local sales tax in works contracts, hire-purchase transactions, lease of films, etc. Though Parliament could levy a tax on these transactions, as tax on sales has all along been treated as an item of revenue to be assigned to the States, in regard to these transactions which resemble sales also, it is considered that the same policy should be adopted.

Besides the above mentioned matters, a new problem has arisen as a result of the decision of the Supreme Court in Northern India Caterers (India) Ltd. Vs. Lt. Governor of Delhi. States have been proceeding on the basis that the Associated Hotels of India case was applicable only to supply of food or drink by a hotelier to a person lodged in the hotel and that tax was leviable on the sale of foodstuffs by a restaurant. But over-ruling the decision of the Delhi High Court, the Supreme Court has held in the above case that service of meals whether in a hotel or restaurant does not constitute a sale of food for the purpose of levy of sales tax but must be regarded as the rendering of a service in the satisfaction of a human need or ministering to the bodily want of human beings. It would not make any difference whether the visitor to the restaurant is charged for the meal as a whole or according to each dish separately.

9. It is, therefore, proposed to suitably amend the Constitution to include in article 366 a definition of “tax on the sale or purchase of goods” by inserting a new clause (29A).
The definition would specifically include within the scope of that expression tax on—
(i) Transfer for consideration of controlled commodities;
(ii) The transfer of property in goods involved in the execution of a works contract;
(iii) Delivery of goods on hire-purchase or any system of payment by instalments;
(iv) Transfer of the right to use any goods for any purpose for cash, deferred payment or other valuable consideration;
(v) The supply of goods by an unincorporated association or body of persons to a member thereof for cash, deferred payment or other valuable consideration;
(vi) the supply, by way of or as part of any service, of food or any drink for cash, deferred payment or other valuable consideration. (See clause 4).
A new entry is sought to be inserted in the Union List in the Seventh Schedule, as entry 92B, to enable the levy of tax on the consignment of goods where such consignment takes place in the course of inter-State trade or commerce.
Clause (1) of article 269 is proposed to be amended so that the tax levied on the consignment of goods in the course of inter-State trade or commerce shall be assigned to the States. Clause (3) of that article is proposed to be amended to enable Parliament to formulate by law principles for determining when a consignment of goods takes place in the course of inter-State trade or commerce.
Clause (3) of article 286 is proposed to be amended to enable Parliament to specify, by law, restrictions and conditions in regard to the system of levy, rates and other incidents of the tax on the transfer of goods involved in the execution of a works contract, on the delivery of goods on hire-purchase or any system of payment by instalments and on the right to use any goods.
The proposed amendments would help in the augmentation of the State revenues to a considerable extent. Clause 6 of the Bill seeks to validate laws levying tax on the supply of food or drink for consideration and also the collection or recoveries made by way of tax under any such law. However, no sales tax will be payable on food or drink supplied by a hotelier to a person lodged in the hotel during the period from the date of the judgment in the Associated Hotels of India case and the commencement of the present Amendment Act if the conditions mentioned in sub-clause (2) of clause 6 of the Bill are satisfied. In the case of food or drink supplied by Restaurants this relief will be available only in respect of the period after the date of judgment in the Northern India Caterers (India) Limited case and the commencement of the present Amendment Act.
Interestingly many of these issues have come back as problems in Service Tax. If the sale portion of a composite contract can be subject to sales tax, maybe the natural corollary is that the rest can be taxed under Service Tax.

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