GST Appellate Tribunals(GSTAT) may be set up by December 2023

The Centre plans to set up the GST Appellate Tribunals, also called GSTAT, in different states of India by December 2023. The principal Bench would be sitting in New Delhi. The primary objective of GSTATs is to ensure a quick resolution of GST disputes, improvement of ease of doing business and revenue generation.

It’s been five years since GST rolled out in India. Still, no panel addressed any GST disputes arising between states and taxpayers. The Group of Ministers (GoM) was formed to establish the tribunals in the year. 

The committee headed by the Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala finalised that New Delhi shall be the location for setting up the principal Bench and similarly to set up state-level Benches.

The appellate body will be led by an SC judge or the Chief Justice of an HC. Sources indicate that each of these Benches will have a judicial officer equivalent to an HC judge and a senior tax officer as technical members from the state or Centre. 

Each state can have an utmost of five Benches as the state governments will be given some relaxation towards nominating the technical members, which is a crucial demand from states.

If the GST Council meeting happens sooner, it may decide by early next month. The government aims to incorporate changes in the CGST law vide the Finance Bill, 2023, in the upcoming Budget 2023. It is expected to take around 9-12 months to establish the tribunals, claimed an official from the Finance Ministry.

The first GST appeal will be processed through individual GST officers, while the second-level appeal against the first appellate orders shall be with the GSTAT, whether or not it is central jurisdiction. Hence, GSTAT will be the first forum where the adjudication process congregates under CGST, SGST, UTGST, and IGST laws, including the respective tax administrations. 

Taxpayers aggrieved by the appellate/revisional authority’s orders can approach the GSTAT. They need not approach their respective HC, which ultimately reduces the caseload.

Faster dispute resolution and quick orders help the GST revenue authorities achieve higher tax revenues blocked in litigations, further reducing any undue hardship for taxpayers.

A four-member search and selection committee will appoint the members to these Benches. The Bench will also comprise the President of the GSTAT, a Centre’s Secretary and a state chief secretary, with the chairperson having a casting vote.

The CGST law shall be amended to give all similar Benches a Principal Bench in New Delhi, where the GSTAT’s President will sit. The President will assign business and pass on the cases among different Benches. 

As per the eligibility criteria, the technical member from the Centre must qualify as an IRS officer with at least 25 years of experience. The state officer must have 25 years of experience at the option of state government, depending upon the candidature.

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