Today is the 30th day of the complete lockdown announced by our Prime Minister. I am sure, our members are strictly observing the lockdown not only for your own benefit but also for the sake of your near and dear ones. The expected result may take some more time. Nonetheless, as it is rightly said “Jan hai to Jahan hai”. Therefore, my sincere request to all of you my dear friends and the seniors is to strictly observe the guidelines, prohibitions and restrictions. While taking care of your own health you should also maintain the hygienic conditions vociferously advocated by all the health care workers.
The lockdown presently may be up to 3rd May, it may open partially for some of the areas, however, what is required is maintaining physical distance, wearing masks etc. for at least next six months to a year from now. Those interested can visit our website and hear the excellent lecture given on ‘Myths of Covid-19 and how to stay safe’ by Dr. Pratit Sandhani, MD, a leading doctor and a visiting faculty at four renowned hospitals in Mumbai.
After 3rd May when we reopen the office, if permitted by the State authority, even partially, it is advisable that the meeting of the client is avoided for a month or so. My earnest request ‘stay safe and follow the Government advisory’.
Donate generously through AIFTP
AIFTP has always been in forefront in making the contribution at the times of calamity through the Prime Minister Fund. In the message given in the AIFTP Times, I have requested each and every member to contribute at least ₹ 1000/-. We have robust membership of 8500 members and if each one of you contribute we can collect sizeable fund and contribute to the PM Care Fund. Please do not worry about 100% deduction, even if you pay through us, we would be submitting your name, PAN number and address to PM Cares Fund, who would be issuing the receipt individually. I am aware, that each one of you have contributed in some or other form for the Covid-19 fund through various associations. Our East Zone members are doing the noble work of providing food to the needy persons. I am aware, many of our members doing similar activities, and I am proud of all of them. Nonetheless, it is with this reason I wish to reach out to each and every member to donate generously through AIFTP. If you have donated through other organizations, we are requesting you to pay only ₹ 1000/- to put your mark in the AIFTP kitty. Friends those who have not paid so far, kindly hurry up and visit our website www.aiftponline.org. A pop-up would guide you to the donation form and you can fill up the form and you can pay either through credit card or through any other mode of e-payment. I am sure, each one of you would assist me in reaching my goal. Kindly do it at the earliest as we wish to submit the same by 30th April 2020 or latest by the time when partial opening happens.
The new opportunity – Virtual Meeting
Every challenge carries a seed of opportunity. The sudden lockdown has given all of us an opportunity to be part of numerous virtual meetings / webinars organized by almost all the Associations. I was personably little backward about the new technology and virtual meeting. The Central zone’s leading advocate Shri Pankaj Ghiya organized three trial meetings and taking the thread there from, all the zones of AIFTP, jointly or independently, have started hosting webinars. I am happy to share that the Central zone is leading in the attendance front of the webinar, they have reached up to 1000 participants in one of the webinar of which I would give details little later. The highest attendance in the Webinar arranged by South Zone is more than 900 and in West zone so far is 768. I am fully aware, that it is not only the number that counts but the quality of the program and the speaker is also being maintained. Leading personalities in the concerned field are being invited. I must also thank all the past presidents who have been supporting the cause of education and encouraging respective zones. We are producing in the later part of this publication the list of webinars held so far and webinars to be held which are planned today. I am also happy to inform you that we are providing in our website You-tube link for each and every webinar held by us so far. For every day program, kindly visit our AIFTP website for the meeting id and password. Let me also inform you that we are taking due care while using the zoom app as per Government advisory.
At present, we have designed a plan of meetings up to 4th May 2020. We will look into the scenario thereafter and continue with virtual webinar on Saturday morning. The reason is, for further two or three months it is going to be impossible and unworkable and also not desirable to hold any conference and seminars where physical presence is required. Let us hope and pray the situation improves fast.
The e-publication era of AIFTP
The lockdown has given us an opportunity to take a step forward for e-publication. Shri Vipul Joshi from Mumbai has dictated the entire e-book which is a thorough and detailed analysis of ‘Vivad se Vishwas’ (VSV) scheme. Hon’ble Shri Justice S C Dharmadikari took pains to go through the contents in the lock down and gave a wonderful message for the e publication. We thank the two past presidents – Sr. Advocate from Delhi, Madam Premlata Bansal and Sr. Advocate from Jabalpur Shri Ganesh Purohit who have vetted the e-book right since its nascent stage. A team of panel headed by our Past President and also Sr. Advocate of Bombay High Court, Dr. K. Shivaram has graciously consented to head the panel of experts who would be answering the queries raised by the members after going through the e-book. All the three past presidents have written forward for e publication
The author and his team have agreed to update the book as and when the clarification / information on any other issue or further FAQ are received from the Department. It is for this reason that presently the e-book is only viewable format. On visiting our website, you would be guided to a form of e-publication, on filling up the form you would be provided the password to have access to the e-publication. This password can be used ‘n’ number of times by the members from the same instrument, laptop or mobile. If you wish to see the book on another instrument, for example on i-pad, you would get a fresh password. The book is dedicated to the health workers, front-liners and the police authorities who have been on their legs throughout the entire lockdown period to safeguard us at the cost their own health. Friends, kindly visit the website, read the e-publication which runs into about 300 pages. Raise your query, if any, by writing an email to a[email protected] and take the benefit of answer by the experts in the field.
The second cover page of this journal contains the details about the e-publication and its release at the hands of the President of ITAT.
ITAT commences e-Court.
ITAT made history by conducting open court hearing on internet. As the physical office of the ITAT is not functioning due to lockdown, one of the stay petition was heard through video conferencing. The salient point of this hearing was that for the first time the hearing had taken place from the home offices of the members, lawyers were arguing from their home offices and DR arguing from his home office, the AR and Registry staff were present in their home offices. It was an open court proceeding open to everyone on the website. The meeting was conducted through web-based video conferencing platform. The appellant’s advocates plea was heard and stay was granted by a detailed order dated 24 April 2020 in the case of Pandhes Infracall Pvt. Ltd. vs. ACIT (ITAT Mumbai).
The GST issues requiring urgent action by the Government
The Federation has been making regular representation to the Finance Ministry and GST authorities on various difficulties faced by the members and the trade at large. Although some of the suggestions made by us are accepted by the Finance Ministry, there are number of issues which remain unattended.
The Government has taken steps and announced relief to assist the taxpayers who are unable to comply with the statutory deadline due to complete lockdown on account of Covid-19 pandemic. CBIC has issued certain clarifications extending the date for filing the refund application as also extending the time limit for filing LUT for 2020-21 up to 30th June 2020. Certain hardships are still being faced on account of technical glitches. For example, there is no remedy for cancellation of contract on account of force majeure especially to get refund of tax paid on advance receipt. It has to be clarified that excess advance paid can be claimed through RFD-1.
Due date for furnishing any document, report or return etc. falling between 20th March 2020 to 30th June 2020 is extended up to 30th June 2020 in a phase-wise manner. Vide Notification 31/2020 dated 03-04-2020 full interest is waived for the taxpayers having turnover of less than ₹ 5 crores. Unfortunately, the dealers having more than ₹ 5 crores turnover would face the levy of interest at 9% if the return is not filed within 15 days of the due date. This appears to be discriminatory provision as the lockdown has affected equally large and small sectors – both are closed due to lockdown, both have to pay salary to the workers, staff and also incur additional expenses when they are partially open. For example, the places like Mumbai and Delhi may continue to remain under complete lockdown up to 15th May or further depending on the situation then prevailing. Therefore, in my opinion, it is absolutely unfair to levy the burden of interest on the taxpayer having turnover more than ₹ 5 crores. For a person having turnover of more than ₹ 5 crores, for example, for a trader, the net earnings would be around less then 1% of turnover. With the business being closed for over a month, each and every businessman is equally affected. We request that the limit of ₹ 5 crores be removed by taking a sympathetic view under special circumstances.
The exporters are facing a different type of hardship. The time limit for filing the LUT is extended for 2020-21 and not for 2018-19 and 2019-20. This should be considered immediately as a policy of the Central Government has always been to support the exporters.
The persons starting new business or requiring fresh registration for any reason, whatsoever, are not given any extension if the liability to apply for registration accrue in the lockdown period. A dealer starting new business is in a vulnerable position, it is not possible for him to upload the form without the help of Tax Consultant. He may not have required document to upload available with him at his home and therefore such new registration application’s time limit be also extended considering exceptional circumstances.
For the person doing continuous supply of services, during lockdown period, they may not be able to raise the invoice for services like lease, rentals, AMC, works contract, etc. If the hardship is faced by one dealer, it is faced by all the dealers across the country and the yardstick for extension should be same for all.
Difficulties on Direct Tax Front
The Hon’ble Prime Minister has given the time limit for VSV application up to 30th June 2020. The majority of pendency of appeals are at Metropolitan citifies’ appellate authorities, Tribunals and High Courts. Unfortunately, the lockdown may not be lifted in the Metropolitan cities for another 3 to 4 weeks. That would leave hardly any time for the dealers to contact the Consultant to understand the benefit of VSV as also to weigh the probability of contesting their matters in appeal vis-à-vis the benefit of applying for VSV. Moreover, financial hardship of the Assessee on account of lockdown cannot be overlooked. This is going to be very difficult for the Assessee, whether small or big, to arrange for fund to pay for VSV. Considering all these aspects it would be prudent on the part of the Government to extend the time of furnishing VSV application up to 30th September 2020, if the Government desires the scheme to be successful in terms of monitory return to the Government.
With best wishes,
Nikita R. Badheka
National President, AIFTP