Customs officials may get more powers

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With the growing tax frauds of integrated goods and service tax credits, Indian customs officials could soon get more powers.

The government is contemplating amending the Customs Act in the upcoming budget to enable this, an official privy to the development told Economic Times. “We are examining what kind of changes need to be made to the law.”

Customs officials

The proposed changes could provide powers for recovery, confiscation, and arrest, the official said.

There has been a rise in integrated GST (IGST)-related frauds with many exporters using IGST credits to pay customs duty liability, prompting customs officials to initiate an investigation. However, the authorities find themselves at bay as the law does not explicitly provide to deal with such frauds, and are now seeking stringent provisions in the law.

IGST replaced countervailing duty, which was levied in lieu of central excise on imports, under the customs framework. Section 5 of the IGST Act, 2017 provides for levy of IGST on imports. A rider to Section 5 states that IGST on imports will be levied and collected in accordance with Section 3 of Customs Tariff Act, 1975. Section 3, in turn, seeks to levy additional duty as equivalent to the excise duties, sales tax, which are still levied on petroleum products and alcohol.

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