The amnesty-cum-dispute resolution scheme - Sabka Vishwas (Legacy Dispute Resolution) Scheme, 2019 may be headed for limited success with many of the major taxpayers facing a fund crunch in settling the old cases.
Tax experts said that given the response so far, the government may consider extending the year-end deadline. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), in a letter to senior field officers, have said that realisation of tax dues under the Scheme are not as per the expectations.
"It has been learnt from some of the field formations that major taxpayers, especially in the real estate sector, who are eligible to avail the scheme are not able to do so due to financial crunch," the apex indirect tax body has said. Further, these taxpayers are willing to settle the cases if banks provide them loan for the purpose.
Seeking to start with a clean slate, the Modi government had announced the Sabka Vishwas Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2019 announced in the budget to unlock over Rs 3.75 lakh crore involved in pending cases related to excise duty and service tax.
The scheme offers relief varying from 40 per cent to 70 per cent of the tax dues for cases other than voluntary disclosure cases, depending on the amount of tax dues involved.
"We expect more and more people to start filing applications to avail the benefit of the scheme closer to the deadline. So, most of them would approach the tax authorities after December 15," said Rajat Mohan, Senior Partner, AMRG & Associates.
Mohan also said that the revenue realisation from the scheme may not be enough to make up for the lower indirect tax collection.
In its letter dated November 28, the CBIC has asked field officers in various zones to send information on potential taxpayers who want to settle the dues but are facing financial issues.
The Board has asked them to send details of such taxpayers by December 2.
As per official data, the indirect tax authorities have so far received 26,142 applications involving an amount of Rs 16,007 crore as of November 18 for cases pertaining to pre-GST excise and service tax litigations.
The government has so far admitted only 2,828 cases involving Rs 162 crore, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur informed the Parliament recently.
"I don't think this is the end of it. There are a couple of things. Firstly, the government is very serious about this and it wants to start with a clean slate after removing all these disputes. Secondly, whatever doubts were there they have tried to clarify. Wherever there are ambiguities the government has tried to encourage taxpayers to file applications," said Amit Bhagat, Partner, Dhruva Advisors.
"From the communication it seems government sees far more potential in it and may extend the facility," he added.