Email project between Income Tax department, taxpayer delayed

By: | Published: December 13, 2015 12:01 PM

The rollout of an ambitious pilot project of Income Tax department to begin paperless and email-based communication with taxpayers has been delayed as many chosen tax offices have not sent the required data to the CBDT even after over a month-and-a-half of the go-ahead.

income tax efiling todayThe CBDT had asked the Income tax department to “initiate the concept of using email for corresponding with taxpayers and sending through emails the questionnaire, notice etc at the time of scrutiny proceedings and getting responses from them.” (Courtesy: Income Tax Dept)

The rollout of an ambitious pilot project of Income Tax department to begin paperless and email-based communication with taxpayers has been delayed as many chosen tax offices have not sent the required data to the CBDT even after over a month-and-a-half of the go-ahead.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes, in October, had chosen Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Chennai tax ranges for the initial beginning of the project where the cases of 100 chosen and willing assesses who are facing scrutiny action will be dealt over email.

“Except the Chennai range, the other four field units are yet to send the selected five non-corporate ranges in their jurisdiction for the project to roll out. A reminder of urgency has been sent in this regard,” a senior official said.

Officials said the project holds a lot of importance for the CBDT and the Finance Ministry and if successful, it will bring about radical changes in tax administration and will act to reduce taxpayers’ grievances and complaints.

The CBDT, only last week, had notified the usage of emails as the new mode of communication between the taxman and taxpayers, as part of the government’s e-initiative to reduce human interface and complaints of harassment and corruption in conducting tax-related jobs.

“The project will get going sooner than later. The ranges concerned will have to expedite their action as the results of this project are expected to be incorporated in the Budget speech of the Union Finance Minister early next year,” the official said.

The department, in order to reduce the taxpayers’ visit to the IT office, had formally announced the ‘pilot’ project on October 19 and the first set of e-communications were decided to be mailed to 100 chosen people each in the chosen cities.

The CBDT had asked the department to “initiate the concept of using email for corresponding with taxpayers and sending through emails the questionnaire, notice etc at the time of scrutiny proceedings and getting responses from them.”

“This would eliminate the necessity of visiting the Income Tax offices by the taxpayers, particularly in smaller cases, involving limited issues and where taxpayer is able to provide details required by the Assessing Officer (AO) without necessitating his physical presence,” the pilot project order had said.

Former CBDT Chairperson Anita Kapur had recently said that the “first-of-it’s kind initiative” was aimed at making life easy for taxpayers.

“We have been thinking how can we make life easier for taxpayers especially for those who are in the middle and the slightly higher tax bracket.

“So, now we are thinking of allowing that when a notice is issued in an assessment or scrutiny case, the taxpayer can send the department an e-response,” she had said.

The recent amendment in the IT Act in this regard also enables the taxman to send official communication to “email address available in the income-tax return furnished by the addressee to which the communication relates or the email address available in the last income-tax return furnished by the addressee or in the case of addressee being a company, email address of the company as available on the website of Ministry of Corporate Affairs”.

“Also, any email address made available by the addressee to the income-tax authority or any person authorised by such income-tax authority,” the CBDT notification issued in this regard had said.

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