SYED MAHABOOB PEER

It is a well known fact that (1) Direct Taxes, and (2) Indirect Taxes, are the two arms of the Department of Revenue of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.   Even-though, the Authorized Representatives [i.e., Registered Income Tax Practitioners] eligible under the Direct Taxes are inadvertently excluded from being eligible to represent the Taxpayers under Goods & Services Tax.   The words “Practicing/Registered Income Tax Practitioners possessing the Certificate to Practice” have not been included under Section 116 (2) of the CGST Act, 2017 for the purpose of acting as Authorized Representatives.    Is it not disappointing?

The Section 2(15) of the CGST Act, read as “Authorized Representative means the representative as referred to in Section 116”.   The provisions under Clauses (b) and (c) of Subsection (2) of Section 116 of the CGST Act allows only to those two categories having acquired the required educational/professional qualification & attained the professional expertise under particular Act/s, by possessing ‘Certificate for Practicing’ to deal with respective law in the subject field.

However, the Authors of CGST Law have totally ignored the Income Tax Law, and have not included under Section 116 (2) of the CGST Act about the “Practicing Income Tax Practitioners” possessing “Certificate to Practice” issued under Income Tax Act, 1961 and Income Tax Rules, 1962.    Under erstwhile Acts like [1] the GST Act (General Sales Tax Act), [2] the VAT Act (Value Added Tax Act), and [3] the CST Act (Central Sales Tax Act) the Income Tax Practitioners were allowed to appear before Authorities under those Acts as Authorized Representatives on behalf of those Taxpayers.     Thus, the Practicing/Registered Income Tax Practitioners ought to have included under Section 116(2) of the CGST Act, 2017.

Ever-since Income Tax Act exist, (i.e., from 1961) the Income Tax Practitioners are acting as Authorized Representatives on behalf of Income Tax Assessees and are appearing on their behalf before the IT Officers, Appellate Authorities & even before the Hon’ble ITAT.   Further, both the ITPs & recently come up GSTPs are to extend services to Taxpayers regulated by one and the same Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

Further, as the Practicing Lawyers/Advocates already registered/enlisted with the Bar Council of India, and that, the Practicing Chartered Accountants already enlisted with the ICAI, there has not kept any provision under the Income Tax Act for Registration/Enlistment of those Two Categories, but are permitted to appear before the Income Tax Authorities on behalf of Taxpayers/Assessees as Authorized Representatives.

If it is so, when (1) the Practicing Lawyers/Advocates already registered/enlisted with the Bar Council of India, (2) the Practicing Chartered Accountants already enlisted with the ICAI, (3) the Practicing Cost Accountant already enlisted with the ICMAI, and (4) the Practicing Company Secretaries already enlisted with the ICSI are placed under Sub-section (2) of Section 116 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, why not the Income Tax Practitioners?   The Practicing Income Tax Practitioners registered under the Income Tax Act & Rules shall also be eligible, and therefore, there is need for inclusion under Section 116(2) of the CGST Act.

Therefore, there is an utmost need to AMEND the Sub-section (2) of Section 116 of the GST Act, to ADD therein, another category like Practicing Income Tax Practitioners, with the addition of words, which are to read as “any Income Tax Practitioner, who hold a ‘Certificate to Practice’ and who has not been barred from practice”.

Otherwise, it may seem to be the intentional abandoning of Registered Income Tax Practitioners and/or specific bias of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.    Even, if such is the matter, that fact should be notified or brought to the knowledge of the Citizens of India.

As a matter of fact, the Online Application System created on GSTN Portal for the purpose of Registration/Enlistment of GSTPs is not providing scope for mentioning about the category of Applicant’s Present Profession, like Certified Income Tax Practitioners, but clearly containing the scope for other professionals like Advocates, Chartered Accountants, etc., only.    Why this disregard towards the Income Tax Practitioners?!     In this regard, it is much painful & surprising about the ‘silence’ of the Income Tax Practitioners Associations, and this stance is most indigestive.

Even, that particular portion to be filled by the Applicants on that “Online Application System” is not in accordance with the specific provisions of CGST Law, which has lead to total confusion, misinterpretation & mistaken views causing hardship, unnecessary troubles & problems among professionals as well as among authorities.

Further, the Authors of CGST Law might have inadvertently created the Sub-clause, and have created scope under Sub-clause (iv) of Clause (c) of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 83 of the CGST Rules, as a specific category of eligible applicants, like those having passed the final examination of Chartered Accountancy/Cost Accountancy/Company Secretary-ship.    This itself might have necessitated to add the column (very particularly for such professional categories) on the Online Application System created on GSTN Portal, which in turn might be leading to total confusion, misinterpretation & mistaken views and ultimately causing hardship, unnecessary troubles & problems among professionals as well as among authorities.

Therefore, there is need to remove the Sub-clause (iv) under Clause (c) of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 83 of the CGST Rules.      Because, any person who has passed the final examination of Chartered Accountancy/Cost Accountancy/Company Secretary-ship shall definitely be enter into that profession. 

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