After successfully completing over 1,000 scrutiny I-T assessments under a maiden taxpayer-friendly paperless inquiry system, CBDT is set to extend the initiative as it is mulling seeking taxpayers’ consent to opt for the scheme at ITR filing stage itself. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the policy-making body of the Income Tax department, had launched a pilot project last year to reduce taxpayers’ visit to the tax office and their interface with the taxman.
Under the project, the first set of e-communications were decided to be mailed to the assessees in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Chennai region. As per official data accessed by PTI, the department in these five cities has completed scrutiny assessments in 1,001 cases till now, after a total of 6,481 assesses were contacted of which 1,812 responded positively.
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A senior official said the biggest “challenge” in achieving better success in this new project was obtaining the consent of the taxpayers. The Assessing Officers (AOs) found that while in some cases the taxpayer could not be reached as their personal email ids were with their CAs or authorised representatives, in a few other cases the assessee withdrew his consent to join the scheme, the official said.
“It is now being mulled if the I-T department can print a footnote on the Income Tax Return (ITR) or on the scrutiny notice itself that the taxpayer is invited to participate in the exercise over email in a paperless manner. “The results are encouraging and the CBDT wants to make this an institutional system for scrutiny assessments henceforth,” the official said, adding the scheme is expected to be widened and rolled out with new features within this financial year.
The success of the project, initiated last year, is evident from the fact that CBDT recently added two more cities (Hyderabad and Kolkata), to the existing five metros, under the paperless assessment system exercise.
With this project, CBDT aims to end corruption and bring hassle-free experience for the taxpayers who undergo a time-consuming scrutiny assessment procedure which entails production of a number of documents and financial statements. The department, however, says it brings only about 1 per cent of cases under the said procedure.
An official notification had been issued earlier which spells out the procedure, formats and standards for ensuring “secured transmission” of emails between the AO and the assessee stating all communication between the two sides will be done in PDF file format and over bonafide email ids.