The Enforcers of GST: Understanding Officers and Source of Their Powers Under the CGST Act

Chapter 2 of the CGST Act deals with the administration of GST laws. This article covers the provisions related to the appointment of GST officials and their powers as accorded by the CGST Act.

CA Raj Kumar - Avatar Image Written by CA Raj Kumar - Updated on June 11, 2024. Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes.
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The Enforcers of GST: Understanding Officers and Source of Their Powers Under the CGST Act

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) revolutionized India's indirect tax system. But ensuring this complex system runs smoothly requires a dedicated force—the GST officers. These individuals are the backbone of GST administration. They are responsible for making sure of compliance under the GST laws. They play a crucial role in ensuring the enforcement of the GST laws and preventing tax evasion.

Legal Provisions about the GST Officers

The legal provisions about the administration of GST laws are covered in Chapter 2 of the CGST Act, 2017. This section dives into the details of GST officers, from who they are (Section 3. Officers under this Act) to what they can do (Section 5. Powers of officers). You'll also find out how they get appointed (Section 4. Appointment of officers) and, in some cases, how officers from other tax departments can be authorized to help out (Section 6. Authorization of officers of state tax or union territory tax as proper officers in certain circumstances).

Who are the officers under the CGST Act?

Section 3 gets straight to the point, outlining the government's power to appoint various officers to manage GST. From clauses (a) to (i), Section 3 outlines the different types of officers that can be appointed under the CGST Act. It also retains the officers appointed under the Central Excise Act, 1944, as the officers appointed under GST. This is done to ensure a smooth transition and continuity in the administration of indirect taxes.The government appoints the top officials. However, through Section 4, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) steps in to hire the administrative staff who keep things running smoothly.

How do GST officials derive their power?

Section 5 of the CGST Act provides the GST officials with the authority they need to enforce the GST laws. The senior officials can exercise the power granted to them as well as exercise the power and discharge the duties of the officials subordinate to them. Further, commissioners can delegate their powers to any subordinate officials, subject to limitations set by them. However, to avoid conflicts, the appellate authority is barred from exercising the powers and discharge the duties conferred or imposed on any other officer of the central tax.

Authorization to act as a proper officer for state or UT tax officials

Section 6 aims to streamline GST administration by allowing state and union territory tax officers to act as "proper officers" for CGST purposes under certain conditions. This avoids duplicate work for taxpayers who might otherwise face inquiries from both CGST and state/UT tax authorities for the same issue.For example, Central Tax officers can investigate an assessee for fake supplies ("fake billing") used to claim input credits. This shall not stop the state and UT tax officials from investigating the assessee for any other issues. However, on the same issue, only one, either the central tax officers or state or UT tax officers, shall continue. Further, the same authority shall continue with appeals and revisions till the conclusion of the case to avoid duplication and ambiguity of jurisdiction. Overall, this promotes efficiency by allowing state and UT tax officers to leverage their existing expertise for CGST administration while ensuring clear lines of responsibility through restrictions on duplicate proceedings.

Legal text from Chapter 2 of the CGST Act

We've already covered the key points to streamline your understanding. For further details, please refer to the full text of the Act as given below:

CGST Act, 2017 – Officers (Sections 3-6)

The Government shall, by notification, appoint the following classes of officers for the purposes of this Act, namely:

  1. Principal Chief Commissioners of Central Tax or Principal Directors General of Central Tax
  2. Chief Commissioners of Central Tax or Directors General of Central Tax
  3. Principal Commissioners of Central Tax or Principal Additional Directors General of Central Tax
  4. Commissioners of Central Tax or Additional Directors General of Central Tax
  5. Additional Commissioners of Central Tax or Additional Directors of Central Tax
  6. Joint Commissioners of Central Tax or Joint Directors of Central Tax
  7. Deputy Commissioners of Central Tax or Deputy Directors of Central Tax
  8. Assistant Commissioners of Central Tax or Assistant Directors of Central Tax
  9. Any other class of officers as it may deem fit

Provided that the officers appointed under the Central Excise Act, 1944 shall be deemed to be the officers appointed under the provisions of this Act.

  1. The Board may, in addition to the officers as may be notified by the Government under section 3, appoint such persons as it may think fit to be the officers under this Act.
  2. Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section (1), the Board may, by order, authorise any officer referred to in clauses (a) to (h) of section 3 to appoint officers of central tax below the rank

  1. Subject to such conditions and limitations as the Board may impose, an officer of central tax may exercise the powers and discharge the duties conferred or imposed on him under this Act.
  2. An officer of central tax may exercise the powers and discharge the duties conferred or imposed under this Act on any other officer of central tax who is subordinate to him.
  3. The Commissioner may, subject to such conditions and limitations as may be specified in this behalf by him, delegate his powers to any other officer who is subordinate to him.
  4. Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, an Appellate Authority shall not exercise the powers and discharge the duties conferred or imposed on any other officer of central tax.

  1. Without prejudice to the provisions of this Act, the officers appointed under the State Goods and Services Tax Act or the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Act are authorised to be the proper officers for the purposes of this Act, subject to such conditions as the Government shall, on the recommendations of the Council, by notification, specify.
  2. Subject to the conditions specified in the notification issued under sub-section (1), ––
    1. where any proper officer issues an order under this Act, he shall also issue an order under the State Goods and Services Tax Act or the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Act, as authorised by the State Goods and Services Tax Act or the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Act, as the case may be, under intimation to the jurisdictional officer of State tax or Union territory tax;
    2. where a proper officer under the State Goods and Services Tax Act or the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Act has initiated any proceedings on a subject matter, no proceedings shall be initiated by the proper officer under this Act on the same subject matter.
  3. Any proceedings for rectification, appeal and revision, wherever applicable, of any order passed by an officer appointed under this Act shall not lie before an officer appointed under the State Goods and Services Tax Act or the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Act.

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CA Raj Kumar

I love blogging and studying taxation. I write articles related to Tax laws and common issues in handling taxation in India. Often, common but small mistakes make things complicated. I write and share them to save precious time of others.


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