The GST Act, through its Chapter II, Section 3 defines for the appointment of necessary personnel as GST officers under the law. Since the act was introduced, it has gone through numerous adjustments and amendments. As a result of it, several cases of tax offenses and re-adjustment requests in tax penalties from taxpayers came to notice.
For taxpayers, to go through long litigations and penalties for any wrongdoing unintentionally under the law is a worthy concern to discuss. GST officers under the act were placed to intermediate in all such cases.
It is still an unexplained thought for the taxpayers that “Is a GST officer authorized by the law to raise or reduce the tax penalty or tax liability of the taxpayer?“.
To give a clear view of this, we have explained what GST officers can do within their judicial powers under the GST Act.
Officers under the GST Act
Law prescribes for the appointment of competent personnel’s for the following posts to be recognized as GST officers under the Act:
For Central Goods and Service Tax :
(a) Principal Chief Commissioners of CGST / Principal Directors General of CGST,
(b) Chief Commissioners of CGST / Directors General of CGST,
(c) Principal Commissioners of CGST/ Principal Additional Directors General of CGST,
(d) Commissioners of CGST/ Additional Directors General of CGST,
(e) Additional Commissioners of CGST / Additional Directors of CGST,
(f) Joint Commissioners of CGST / Joint Directors of CGST,
(g) Deputy Commissioners of CGST / Deputy Directors of CGST,
(h) Assistant Commissioners of CGST / Assistant Directors of CGST, or
(i) Such other class of officers as may be appointed for the purposes of this Act.
For State Goods and Service Tax:
(a) Principal/Chief Commissioner of SGST,
(b) Special Commissioner/s of SGST,
(c) Additional Commissioner/s of SGST,
(d) Joint Commissioner/s of SGST,
(e) Deputy Commissioner/s of SGST,
(f) Assistant Commissioner/s of SGST or;
(g) Such other class of officers and persons as may be appointed for the purposes of this Act.
- Appointment of other officers can also be done by the board, whenever required for abiding the provisions of law.
- The Central or State government officers – if requiring for the purpose of following any legal provision, can also appoint other officers below the rank of commissioners within their jurisdiction.
Powers conferred by Act to GST Officers
With subject to conditions and rules of CBIC (Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs) prescribed for specific situations, the GST Act confers the following powers to GST officers:
- The power to Commissioner to delegate his powers to any officer subordinate to him subject to conditions or limitations as may be specified. (Section 6 of GST Act, 2017).
- The power to issue summons to produce evidence or a document for the inquiry.(Section 82 of GST Act, 2017 ).
- The power to access business premises, books of accounts, documents, computer programs, etc which the officer may be required for the purpose of audit, scrutiny, verification or safeguard the interest of revenue (Section 83 of GST Act, 2017 ).
- The power to arrest to Commissioner, if he believes the person has committed any tax offence is punishable under Section 92or for any other reason as may be specified. (Section 81 of GST Act, 2017 ).
- The power of inspection, search, and seizure where an officer not below the rank of Joint Commissioner can undertake inspection, search or seizure of any taxpayer (Section 79of GST Act, 2017).
- The power of revision to the Chief Commissioner or Commissioner, whereupon his own motion he can call for examining the records of any proceedings against the taxpayer and pass necessary orders in just and proper manner he thinks fit, modifying or enabling the said decision made by Appellate Authority(Section 99 of GST Act, 2017 ).
- The power to ask for statistics from the concerned person or other officer in a specified manner for the purpose of better administration or relating to any matter concerned. (Section 141 of GST Act, 2017 ).
- The powers to make regulations within his conferred powers, consistent with the act rules and provisions to carry out any purpose of the act. ( Section 155 of GST Act, 2017 ).
Role of Appellate Authority in Revision of Penalties
Where any adjudicating authority/GST officer or any other officer under the act issues any order or decision within the provisions of the act against the taxpayer, the taxpayer can appeal such decision to an Appellate Authority (AA).
The CHAPTER XVIII, Section 107, specifically defines the powers of the appellate authority to help the taxpayer, appealing against any order or any decision passed against him by any officer or authority under the GST act.
Appellate authority means an authority authorized or appointed to hear appeals with reference to Section 107.
In motion of any GST order or decision taken against the taxpayer, a taxpayer can appeal to the Appellate Authority within 3 months from the date of communication received by him for the said decision or order. It is specified mentioned in Section 107, that appeals against all orders, decisions or penalties all can be revised if appealed with the jurisdicted appellate authority.
As per the GST Act, the taxpayer appealing against any decision through the appellate authority has to undergo a procedure that goes in the following way :
First, the person with the said order or decision has to appeal to the Appellate Authority (AA) within 3 months of receipt of such communication.
The Appellate Authority (AA) will follow the appeal process with the GST officer/ adjudicating authority who issued the decision or order, along with communicating the proceedings to the Commissioner appointed under SGST/CGST rules.
With proceedings held with adjudicating authorities/GST officers issuing directions for penalty, Appellate Authority (AA) can revise, modify or alter the decision/order as it deems fit and communicate the references and findings to the Commissioner of Central Goods & Services Tax and the Adjudicating authority/ GST officer.
All decisions taken by the Appellate Authority (AA) / Revisional Authority will be binding on the parties.
In the GST regime, for orders, decisions or penalties raised against the taxpayer, all can be appealed through the Appellate Authority.
Also, taxpayers can directly approach the Adjudicating Authority or the GST officer for issuing directions for certain orders or penalties with the supporting evidences. If the officer believes that no penalty is to be raised against him, he might issue a revised decision. However, no decision or penalty can be raised against a taxpayer by any GST officer without giving him a reasonable opportunity to present his case.
In case, even if the appeal with the adjudicating authority or GST officer fails, the taxpayer can then appeal to the Appellate Authority for revision/modification of the decision.
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Also Read: Rights and Obligations of Secured Creditors