The Union Finance Ministry on 3 December 2014 constituted a High Level Committee (HLC) to interact with trade and industry on tax-related issues on a regular basis. The high level committee will be headed by former Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Ashok Lahiri.
Other two members of the committee are Sidhartha Pradhan, retired member of the Settlement Commission (Income Tax and Wealth Tax) and Gautam Ray, retired DG (Audit) of the Customs and Central Excise.
Terms of Reference (ToR) of the High Level Committee
• The High Level Committee will interact with trade and industry on regular basis and ascertain areas where clarity in tax laws is required.
• The HLC will give recommendations to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) for issuance of appropriate clarifications by way of circulars, instructions on tax issues.
• The CBDT/CBEC will issue the required clarifications, circulars, instructions within a period of 2 months from the date of receipt of recommendations of the HLC.
• The HLC will be assisted by two Nodal Officers not below the rank of Joint Secretary/Commissioner, one each from Income Tax and Customs & Central Excise. The choice of Nodal Officers will be recommended by CBDT and CBEC. The appointment of the Nodal Officers will be made with the approval of Revenue Secretary.
• The HLC shall set its own procedures for regulating its work.
• The HLC may consult experts and tax professionals from outside as it may consider appropriate. The HLC may also invite officers from Department of Revenue, including CBEC and CBDT and other Government Departments for interaction.
• The Chairman and two members of the Committee will function on part time basis.
• The term of the Committee shall be for one year from the date of its constitution, subject to further extensions as may be considered appropriate by the Department of Revenue, Union Ministry of Finance.
• The HLC will submit half-yearly reports to the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
In 2014-15 Budget speech, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced the government's intention to set up a high level committee to interact with trade and industry on a regular basis and ascertain areas where clarity in tax laws was required.
This was among several measures that the NDA government had unveiled to boost the confidence of tax payers and provide certainty and clarity in tax laws.
The government is dealing with several high profile tax disputes with multinationals and has taken steps to calm nerves of investors by promising a non-adversarial tax regime.
When: 3 December 2014