Centre's help may be sought to check trucks of VAT evaders

The Delhi government’s VAT department plans to approach the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry to get access to vehicle registration list of all states to punish owners of trucks used to bring goods into the Capital without disclosure to the department.

VAT Commissioner S S Yadav said: “We hope to step up our electronic surveillance units at border points and proceed against all truck owners who bring in goods likely to be involved in VAT evasion.”

The department so far has managed to proceed against only those trucks which are registered with Delhi’s transport department.

“We have taken the list of vehicles from the transport department but in the coming days we also want to prosecute those trucks which are registered in other states. For this we will seek help from the Transport Ministry,” said a senior official.

Following Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s direction to boost electronic surveillance against VAT evaders, the department developed an automatic truck registration number reading system in which a camera and radio sensor read the number plate and checks the department’s records to see if the buyer of the goods loaded in the vehicle has given advance information to the department.

“All Delhi-based buyers are required to fill Delhi Sugam-II form to give advance information on goods being brought into the city,” said an official.

Trucks carrying undeclared goods are impounded by our employees posted on border posts and VAT and penalty is imposed on the owners of the goods, he said.

The automatic number reading system has so far been installed at two border entry points Ghazipur old and Ghazipur new and facility is in the process of being expanded to all major truck entry points.

“We soon plan to install similar smart number plate reading system on city entry points on the Jaipur highway, Bhadurgarh highway and the Sonepat highway,” said the official.

The new truck checking initiative to increase VAT collection is being supplemented by the government by launching an new app on Monday to encourage public to help the department track VAT evaders.

Buyers by collecting bills at the time of purchase and sending  a bill copy to the department on WhatsApp will help trace VAT evaders.

“The copy of the bill would be accepted through WhatsApp and the winners would get cash prize ranging up to 10 times of the bill amount,” said a senior VAT official.

The bills sent on WhatsApp by luck draw participants would be used by our team to find out if it is reflected in that particular outlet’s online VAT payment system.

“If not reflected in the system, then action will be taken against the outlet. If it is reflected in the system, then the exercise will serve as a random check and maintain pressure on shopkeepers so that they do not attempt to evade VAT,” said Yadav.

Out of the total tax revenue of Rs 34,661 crore in 2015-16, the VAT department was tasked to collect Rs 24,000 crore – 69 percent of the total revenue collections.

However, till now the department has only manage to collect Rs 15,000 crore and meeting the target will be a challenge for VAT officials.  

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