According to several industrialists’ advocates, the State GST Department sent notifications on roughly 8,000 assessees in the state as part of its assessment of old VAT cases for the fiscal years 2015–16 and 2016–17. Of these, 60–70% had not even been informed of the assessments.
Many industrialists changed their accountants and CAs in the wake of the repeal of the VAT and the implementation of the GST regime, stated Kanwal, an advocate.
He further informed that the department has given notices to 8,000 assesses, over 4,000 of them are in Ludhiana.
Further, while letters should have been physically delivered to assessees as they had changed employees, the GST Department instead emailed the accountants and CAs regarding the assessment. Since that fines are being assessed while 70% of the assessees are unaware of the assessment process, they are truly in a precarious situation.
The Chief Minister has also received a letter from Badish Jindal, head of the Federation of Punjab Small Industries Association (FOPSIA), demanding involvement in the situation.
Using the email addresses of attorneys and advocates who no longer represent businesspeople, the GST Department sends notices and reminders of past VAT cases. The department never made an effort to confirm whether or not the assessors were getting the notices. Most of the time, either the previous email IDs were invalid or the advocates/lawyers neglected to inform the business people, Jindal stated, thus they did not receive them.
The department began tracking down the addresses and telephone numbers of these businessmen for tax recovery after executing these partial VAT assessments and imposing significant interest and penalties.
He further stated that the assessees’ right to a reassessment of these cases had been rejected because these assessments had been deemed to be time-barred. When an assessor passes away, their dependents are required to pay their debts. According to him, the penalties are frequently so severe that assessors are unable to deposit these taxes.