Saturday, 16 November 2013

LTU – Single Window Facilitation For Large Taxpayers

Taxpayers
 The Union Finance Minister in his Budget Speech 2005-06 announced the proposal to set-up Large Taxpayer Units (LTUs) in the country, which would act as a single window facilitation centre for all large entities paying excise duty, corporate tax/income tax and service tax.

The first LTU was set-up at Bangalore which commenced operation from 3rdOctober, 2006 followed by three more LTUs operating at Chennai from 1st December, 2007 in Mumbai from 27th March, 2008 and in Delhi from 2nd June, 2008.

What is an LTU?
 LTU is a self-contained tax administration office under the Department of Revenue which acts as a single window clearance point for all matters relating to central excise, income tax/corporate tax and service tax. Entities would be able to file their excise return, direct taxes returns and service tax return at such LTUs and for all practical purposes will be assessed to all these taxes at these LTUs. Such units are equipped with modern facilities and trained manpower to assist the tax payers in all matters relating to direct and indirect tax/duty payments, filing of documents and returns, claim of rebates/refunds, settlement of disputes etc. The scheme aims at reducing tax compliance cost and delays, and bringing about uniformity in the matters of tax/duty determination. An eligible taxpayer can opt to avail of the facility of LTU scheme.

Establishment and Administration of LTUs
A Large Transfer Unit is headed by a Chief Commissioner. There are Commissioners posted in LTU, who hold executive and appellate charges. The powers and duties are similar to that of other field commissioner. The Chief Commissioners, LTU assigns a Client Executive for each taxpayer from among the Additional/Joint/Deputy/Assistant Commissioner posted in LTU, and the said Client Executive is to be the single point interface with the large taxpayer for all purposes.

            The officers posted in LTU have All India jurisdiction in respect of all registered premises of a large taxpayer registered in that particular LTU. The erstwhile Central Excise or Service Tax Commissionerate officers have concurrent jurisdiction. However, the interaction with these units is limited to specific function requiring physical presence of the officers for purposes such as warehousing, sealing or any other work as assigned by the LTU.

            The LTU performs all the statutory functions presently mandated under the Income Tax Act, 1961, Wealth Tax Act and Rules made there under (in respect of direct tax matters), under the Central Excise Act, 1944 and Rules made there under (in respect of central excise matters), Customs Act/Rules (in respect of  functions handles by excise authorities), and under the Finance Act, 1994 and Service Tax Rules (in respect of  service tax matters). The Chief Commissioner and Commissioners of an LTU are expected to play a pro-active role in the administration of the LTU.

Eligibility for Registration under LTU
The large taxpayers who pay direct and indirect taxes above the threshold limit as specified in Notification dated 30.09.2006 are eligible to seek registration under LTU as per the following norms:

               Any person, engaged in the manufacture or production of goods, or a provider of taxable service, who has paid during the financial year 2004-05 or during the financial year preceding the year of filing of application for registration under LTU,

·        duties of excise of more than rupees five crores in cash or through account current; or
·        service tax of more than rupees five crores in cash or through account current; or
·        advance tax of more than rupees ten crores under the Income Tax Act, 1961,

and is presently assessed to income tax or corporate tax under the Income Tax Act, 1961, under certain jurisdictions of Chief Commissioner of Income Tax,  Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.

Procedure to Seek Registration under LTU
 A large taxpayer opting for registration under LTU needs to file a consent form to the head of LTU, and thereafter, procedure for acceptance of his form and transfer of jurisdiction follows. This includes, Submission of consent form for registration under LTU, Verification and acceptance of application, Transfer of jurisdiction to LTU and assignment of a chief executive as a single point interface.

            A large taxpayer may, with intimation of at least thirty days in advance, opt out to be a large taxpayer from the first day of the following financial year.

Various Provisions as Applicable to Large Taxpayer
  When a large taxpayer gets registered under LTU, the provisions of service tax, excise and CENVAT credit would apply to it mutatis mutandis as they apply to otherassessees subject to the following:

1.      Provisions applicable in relation to self-adjustment of excess duty paid under Rule 12BB of the Central Excise Rules, 2002, whereby a large taxpayer manufacturing excisable goods is permitted to adject excess duty paid by him in the subsequent period.
2.      Provisions applicable in relation to transfer of credit under Rule 12A(4) of the CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004, to any of its other manufacturing or service providing units.
3.      Provisions in relation to filing of service tax return : A large taxpayer shall submit the individual returns for each of the registered premises (as he was filing prior to registration under LTU). A large taxpayer who has obtained a centralized registration of service tax shall submit a consolidated return for all such premises. However, all the unit returns would be filed with LTU office.
4.      Provisions applicable in relation to transfer of intermediate goods/inputs/capital goods under Rule 12BB of the Central Excuse Rules, 2002 and Rule 12A of the CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004. However these relaxation are applicable with certain conditions.
5.      Export procedures in relation to sealing of export consignment (for excise duty assesses): Facility of self-sealing of export consignment is available to all the large taxpayers. The processing of accepting the proof of export shall be carried out only in the office of the LTU. However, in no case, export consignment should be held up for want of any procedural formalities. In case of sealing by the jurisdictional officers, the jurisdictional officers, whether of Customs or Central Excise, will continue to render the services of sealing as earlier.

Audit norms: A large taxpayer who is liable to be audited every year would not be ordinarily audited annually. As far as possible, the audit of the head office and all the units will be conducted simultaneously. In relation to production of financial records: A large taxpayer, on demand, may be required to make available the financial, stores and CENVAT credit records in electronic media, such as, compact disc or tape for the purpose of carrying out any scrutiny and verification, as may be necessary.

Receptibility of the Scheme:
LTU scheme started with 28 All India eligible Large Taxpayer. Presently 174 units are registered in the four LTUs. These include Multi-locational clients, Central Excise Registrants and Service Tax Registrants. LTU Bangalore only had an annual revenue collection of Rs. 12029 crore during 2012-13. The collection was Rs. 2369 crore in 2006-07, the first year of its operation.

Advantage of Registration under LTU
            An assessee having registered under LTU enjoys several advantages. These include

(i)      Filing of documents at a single place since a large taxpayer (single PAN-based entity) can file all his direct taxes, excise and service tax returns as also all other documents, correspondence, intimations such as export/import related central excise documents, bonds, proof of exports, etc. pertaining to all these establishment can be filed with LTUs.
(ii)    Single point interaction at senior level as upon joining the LTU, an officer of the level of Assistant/Deputy/Joint/Additional Commissioner would be appointed as client executive for assistance in any/all tax matter. This ensures that the taxpayer need not interact with different section/officers of the LTU.
(iii)   Once a taxpayer opts for the LTU scheme, the erstwhile jurisdictional field officer (including preventive units of the erstwhile Excise Commissionerates) would notsuo motu visit its units or interact with them for any issue arising. However certain procedures under the Central Excise Rules, requiring physical control, and verification of premises or documents, would be carried out by the localCommissioniorates under the express directions of the LTU.
(iv)  The taxpayer would have the option to transfer any excess CENVAT credit (of central excise duty or service tax) accumulated in one manufacturing unit or service providing unit to any other eligible unit of his choice through a simple mechanism.
(v)    Movement of capital goods without duty reversal. An LTU taxpayer would have the facility of removing capital goods and inputs from one unit to any other unit of its choice, without payment of duty/reversal of credit through a simple method. Similarly the finished product of one unit can be transferred to another unit, without payment of duty, provided the second unit uses the products as inputs and pays excise duty on the finished goods manufactured using such inputs.
(vi)  The taxpayers is not be subjected to mandatory audit. The selection of a taxpayer for audit would be based on – risk assessment. The Department ensures that audit schedulers are drawn in consultation with the taxpayers so as to cause minimum inconvenience.
(vii) It would be ensured that there is uniformity in the practice as regards classification, valuation, credit availment and similar other issues, for various units of a taxpayer. Trade notices will be issued centrally by the LTU.
(viii)           The rebate/refund claims would be disposed off in a time bound manner within 30 days, if the claims filed are in order.
(ix)  Use of Automation: Returns can be filed electronically and payment of taxes also can be made electronically. Greater use of e-mail for communication is encouraged.
(x)    Interactive approach is adopted for dispute settlement. Before a show cause notice is issued, the matter under dispute is discussed for a resolution, if possible.

Joint Committee on LTU
 A Joint Committee on LTU was set-up in August, 2012 to examine the administrative issues faced by the LTUs with a view and making them more efficient and effective.  The major recommendation of the committee included: training officers at the cutting edge level (Superintendents/Inspectors) in Financial Accounting from reputed institutes like ICAI, IIMS/MDI etc; creation of a Research & Business Intelligence Unit in each LTU to coordinate with intelligence agencies and gather intelligence; constitution of 12 Audit Groups in each LTU administering 50 large taxpayers (with registrations up to 600 under Central Excise and Servicer Tax) for effective audit scrutiny; for auditing multi- locational units, LTU Audit Groups may be formed in major cities to undertake audit of the LTU entities, directly under the supervision of Commissioner (LTU); and additional LTUs may be set-up, one each at Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad as adequate number of large taxpayers is available in these jurisdictions.

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