Issue Of Summons Under GST

Summons In GST

A summons is an act of forcing someone to be present ahead of authority. The GST officers are responsible can because the case could also summon any registered person to present some evidence or records.

With the passage of your time, the complexities of GST have only increased, and then has the aggression of the tax authorities to recover taxes from the taxpayers. Lately, many companies, their employees, and key managerial persons are receiving a summons for a few or the opposite matter. Section 70 of the CGST Act, 2017 authorizes GST officials to call anyone to appear before them if it is necessary for them to record statements or present documents during an investigation. Such persons summoned by the GST officers are duty absolute to appear before the officers. it’s worth noting that the summons and data gathered thereafter is the commencement of proceedings under GST law. Therefore, it becomes necessary for the taxpayers to understand the way to pander to such summons and remember their rights and duties.

This section has a vital role in investigations and non-compliance to a summons may lead to penalty and arrest provisions. Therefore, it’s advised to go with summoning proceedings with utmost care. As an honest citizen of this country, it’s our duty also to support Department in its investigations.

Duties Of A Taxpayer

Issue Of Summons Under GST

Summon proceedings are love ‘judicial proceedings’ as under the Indian Panel Code. Hence, the taxpayers should use caution while addressing the tax officers. During the summons proceedings, GST officers may call upon the documents and record statements of the corporate employees/directors/key managerial persons.

Firstly, while making any statements or submitting any documents, the taxpayers should know the results of such submissions. Unlike just in the case of law enforcement officials, the statements made before the GST officers are admissible as evidence against the taxpayer. the problem is not any more res Integra as this position has been addressed by the Supreme Court just in case of the customs officers wherein it had been held that customs officers don’t constitute law enforcement officials whether or not they’ll have specific powers and hence any statement made before the customs officers are admissible as evidence.

The issue also came up before the Telangana judicial system under GST law, where it was determined that GST officers do not seem to be law enforcement authorities for the Indian Evidence Act, and so any comments made before them would have evidential value. Therefore, the taxpayers have to be conscious while making any statements before the GST officers as these can form the premise for issuing notices or taking any action punitive against them.

Secondly, taxpayers must give their answers in the truest manner and to the simplest of their knowledge. Providing false statements tantamount to an offense under the Indian legal code. Thus, to safeguard themselves from such eventualities, it’ll be within the best interest of the taxpayers to supply all the information/replies asked by the tax officers accurately with no deliberate suppression on their end.

Rights Available To A Taxpayer

Most of the time, it’s been seen that the department causes undue harassment to the existent taxpayers. Hence, it’s of utmost importance that the taxpayers must bear in mind the rights that may be exercised to safeguard themselves from any unilateral action on a part of the tax authorities.

to start with, the taxpayers must remember that the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) has issued detailed guidelines for regulating summon proceedings which inter-alia provides that summons should only be used as a final resort where the taxpayer isn’t cooperating, should only be issued against senior management if the investigation indicates their involvement and not initially instance, mustn’t be issued for an appearance at odd hours, statements must be recorded during official hours, etc. These guidelines provide that language employed in summons mustn’t be unnecessarily harsh to cause stress or embarrassment to the taxpayer and may provide the justification for its issuance.

Taxpayers Should Even Be Responsive To The Subsequent Rights Which May Be Exercised By Them During The Summon Proceedings:

  • Right of retraction: Tax officers often put undue pressure on taxpayers as a result of which they’re forced to create inaccurate statements. In such a situation, taxpayers have the proper to retract the sooner incorrect statement recorded during the summon proceedings and substitute the identical one with the right statement. this can safeguard the taxpayers from any adverse action being taken by the tax authorities supported by such incorrect statements.
  • If the statement has been retracted, the identical might not be admitted as evidence just in case such retraction isn’t seen as an after-thought and there was no long gap between the date of tendering the statement and retraction of the identical.
  • an issue arises whether someone is required to answer all questions when summoned by a revenue officer during the proceedings, investigation, etc. While an individual is necessarily required to attend to and speak the reality when he answers the questions, he may refuse to answer questions at the bottom that might incriminate him.
  • The revenue officer isn’t a law officer and hence the bar under Section 25 Indian Evidence Act, 1872 on confessions made to a lawman being inadmissible might not apply.
  • Privilege to remain silent: If a taxpayer does not know or is unsure about the answer to a question, he has the option to use this right and remain silent. It should be emphasized that the aforementioned right may be a constitutional right available to the taxpayer and cannot be regarded as an offense or obstructing processes, as the Supreme Court and High Courts have said in numerous cases.
  • Right to cross-examine: Tax authorities sometimes tend to govern the summoned person by giving regard to the adverse statement given by any person who is his colleague,  vendor/dealer of the corporate, etc. In such a situation, the taxpayer needn’t consider such statements made by any person and might exercise his right of cross-examining the opposite person to verify the adverse statements made by him.
  • Refreshing Memory: it’s advisable to require time instead of giving incorrect statements. Section 159 of the Indian Evidence Act allows it.
  • Refer to Books of Accounts:-While recording a statement, he’s allowed to refer to Books of Accounts and other documents before giving a statement. he’s not expected to recollect everything (Chelapati Ganeswar Rao SC). By appreciating the duties and recognizing the rights, a taxpayer can mitigate any adversities which can be caused to them by the issuance of summons and not succumb to any pressure imposed by the authorities. Thus, a taxpayer must be diligent and mindful of the foregoing rights and duties.