The CBDT has notified revised income tax scrutiny notices that will allow taxpayers to conduct their business with the taxman over the Internet without needing to visit the I-T office, hence reducing physical interface between them. The new format pertains to three types of notices that are issued by the taxman under section 143(2) of the Income Tax Act (scrutiny of tax return) and the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the policy-making body of the department, has told all field I-T offices in the country that “all scrutiny notices…, shall henceforth, be issued in these revised formats only”. “This has become necessary in view of board’s (CBDT) decision to utilise e-proceeding facility for electronic conduct of assessment proceedings in a widespread manner from this financial year,” the CBDT order, issued yesterday, said.
The three revised notices have been accessed by PTI and are meant for procedures of limited, complete and compulsory manual scrutiny. A scrutiny procedure in the income tax system pertains to a case where a taxpayer is required to provide a number of documents and testimonials to the assessing officer (AO) after his or her case is picked up for a threadbare examination after study of their tax returns. The department has said in the past that it only picks less than one per cent of the total I-T returns (ITRs) filed for examination under the long-drawn scrutiny process but this has still been a issue of grievance for many assessees.
Each of the three, one-page notices, will bear the name of the assessing officer, their designation, telephone and fax number and now, their email id too. A taxpayer can use their account on the official e-filing website of the department or their personal email id to conduct their scrutiny assessment dealings with the AO. “The department wants itself to be seen as a facilitator for the honest tax paying public without him or her requiring to visit the tax office and conducting their dealing with the AO with ease of the click of a computer mouse.The e-proceeding is aimed to curb complaints of harassment and corruption in tax related issues,” a senior officer of the department said.
The new notices will also carry a five-point explanation about the new changes being made for the taxpayer with the ushering in of the Internet-based e-proceeding regime in the Income Tax Department. “As part of the e-governance initiative to facilitate conduct of assessment proceedings electronically, I-T department has launched e-proceeding facility. “It is a simple way of communication between the department and assessee, through electronic means, without the necessity to visit the income tax office for conduct of assessment proceedings. This taxpayer friendly measure would substantially reduce the compliance burden for the assessee,” the note says.
However, the AO will have discretionary powers to call for additional documents and records and seek personal appearance of the taxpayer if there is a reason for him to delve deeper into the case and such a thing is not possible over the e-proceeding communication link. The CBDT is also expected to soon implement the system of conducting the limited scrutiny cases via the ‘e-proceeding’ system through the official e-filing website.