The VAT department’s ‘Bill Banvao Inaam Pao’ scheme has taken off successfully — with Rs 5.65 lakh reward amount distributed to customers who participated — it is yet to make much headway in prosecuting those shopkeepers and traders operating with cancelled licences and manipulating records.
Out of 50 dealers found operating with cancelled licenses, officials said action has been taken against only 11 of them.
The department has recovered Rs 22 lakh as penalty from these 11 dealers for the months of January and February.
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The department has also found that 224 dealers manipulated records. Officials said under the ‘Inam Pao’ scheme, customers upload their bills on a mobile app, ‘DVAT bill’. One per cent of valid entries get a prize equal to five times the bill amount through a lucky draw.
So far, the department has received 12,339 bills through this scheme by customers which are then checked for fraud committed by shopkeepers and traders.
A senior official cited staff crunch, budget preparations and thorough investigation into the bills for the slow rate of prosecution. The department has also sought invoice records from the 224 traders to check the invoice number, bill number and bill amount.
“Cross-checking the bill that we received and tallying that with the invoice which the businessman sends us is a lengthy process. We cannot seek action unless investigation is completed,” said the official.
Asked why action has been taken against only 11 cancelled dealers, the official said the process is to issue a show-cause notice first.
“The 11 who have been penalised were from the January lot. They were collecting VAT from people but not depositing the same with the government. We received the remaining 39 names in February. We have issued show-cause notices to them. Once the budget is over, we will take action,” added the official.
The department also found 500 dealers with invalid TINs (taxpayer identification number). Here too, the department is treading with caution.
“There are few reasons why no action has been taken yet. First, many of these are from adjoining states and many times people upload a bill just to test the system. We have to ensure that bills uploaded by the customers are not forged or false. With budget targets to be met, we have to focus our energies on tax collection. By April, we hope to make a considerable headway in building a system where traders forging entries will fear being caught,” said the official.