Revenue Board mulling to enhance Appeals Collector's powers

ISLAMABAD (April 26 2003) : To strictly check the activities of adjudicating officers from fiscal year 2003-04 onwards, the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) is seriously considering to amend Custom Act, 1969, Sales Tax Act, 1990 and Central Excise Act, 1944 to enhance the powers of Collector (Appeals) to review cases finalised by their subordinate tax officials.

In case of approval from government, the CBR would notify the decision in next budget.

Sources told Business Recorder here Friday that at present the Collector (Appeals) is not empowered to reopen cases under Custom Act.

Section 195 of Custom Act authorises the tax officials to examine the records of any proceedings on which the decision of subordinate officer depends.

But collectors would not be empowered to reopen cases pertaining to judgement passed by a higher judicial forum.

The authorities may amend law or issue fresh SROs to empower the Collector (Appeals) to reopen cases under the powers of section 195 of the Custom Act, section 45-A of the Sales Tax Act and section 35-E of the Central Excise Act, 1944.

According to CBR, the issue came to limelight when tax managers observed that Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has been deciding tax complaints inter alia with the direction to Revenue Board that the cases decided by the adjudicating officers may be reopened to redress the complaints filed by the taxpayers.

On the other hand, CBR is of the view that there are certain cases where illegality of the orders passed by the adjudicating officers could be put to question.

Nevertheless, it would be more appropriate to amend Custom Act, 1969, Sales Tax Act, 1990 and Central Excise Act, 1944 to authorise the Collector (Appeals) to reopen cases.

This would effectively help in dealing with the directives of the FTO, sources added.

As per section 195, the Board or the Collector of Customs may, within his jurisdiction, call for and examine the records of any proceedings under this Act for the purpose of satisfying itself or, as the case may be, himself as to the legality or propriety of any decision or order passed by a subordinate officer and may pass such order as it or he may think fit:

Provided that no order confiscating goods of greater value or enhancing any fine in lieu of confiscation, or imposing or enhancing any penalty, or requiring payment of any duty not levied or short-levied shall be passed unless the person affected thereby has been given an opportunity of showing cause against it and of being heard in person or through a counsel or other person duly authorised by him.

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