VAT number registration: Safwan Muhammad Safi from Kalyan Nagar, Bangalore heckled

Posted on May 12, 2016

The Value Added Tax (VAT) that customers pay while purchasing finished goods is only applicable when the shopkeeper has issued a registration number for the tax. Safwan Muhammad Safi from Bangalore opened a leather shop in Kalyan Nagar by the name, ‘Ambur Leather Shop’. Sometime in March, he went to a local VAT office in HBR Layout for paying the refundable security deposit and to procure a registration number.

On making a visit to the Local VAT Office (055, HBR Layout), he was introduced to an unidentified officer who negotiated the security deposit from Rs. one lakh to 7,000. She had removed a majority of selling items from the application and gave him a receipt for the security deposit. However though, Safwan was unable to get his registration number the same day. He thus, went home and paid the security deposit online. A couple of days later, Safwan comes back to the same office and meets Inspector Kumar. He was apparently annoyed when he found that the security deposit was paid online. “He insisted that I should have paid on the spot in full cash,” said Safwan. The inspector however, did want Safwan to grease his palms before handing him a VAT registration number. He openly asked a bribe of Rs. 3,000.

Safwan refused to pay Inspector Kumar so much money for which a threat floated from the other end. “He threw tantrums and told me that my application will get rejected if I did not pay him. He justified that the bribe was part of the procedure and on paying him, I will get the registration number on the same day,” stated Safwan. Getting registered was of top most priority for Safwan and he did not want to repent anything. “Sadly, I was afraid that I will not get my registration done if I do not show him some money. I ended up paying him Rs. 1,000 to complete all formalities,” Mr. Safwan noted.

It has been Safwan’s ambition to start his business with all due dedication and honesty by paying the taxes. “I do not have the influence of any higher authority. When government officials are themselves shamelessly demanding for bribes, how can the government expect citizens to honestly pay taxes?,” he questions. Further, Mr. Safwan pleads every citizen of the nation to fight and expose such corrupt officers.

- By Aruna Krishnan