Cutting down on tax officials’ discretion and moving to end taxpayers’ harassment, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Wednesday said all communications issued by the tax department to assessees from October 1 will carry a Document Identification Number (DIN) in order to promote transparency.
The CBDT noted “that there have been some instances in which the notice, order, summons, letter and any correspondence were found to have been issued manually, without maintaining a proper audit trail of such communication.”
In order to prevent such instances and to maintain proper audit trail of all communication, quoting of computer-generated DIN is being made mandatory in all forms of communication being sent by income tax authorities, the CBDT said.
Communication sent to taxpayer would include notices /letters relating to assessment, appeals, orders, statutory or otherwise, exemptions, enquiry, investigation, verification of information, penalty, prosecution, rectification and approval.
The CBDT has also specified exceptional circumstances where the communication may be issued manually but only after recording reasons in writing and with the prior written approval of the Chief Commissioner/ Director General of Income-Tax concerned. Tax officials will have to specify with reasons for manual communication along with approval date of Chief Commissioner in a particular format.
“Any communication which is not in conformity with the prescribed guidelines shall be treated as invalid and shall be deemed to have never been issued,” the CBDT said.
Such manual communication will have to be uploaded on the system portal and regularised within 15 days, and intimated to the Principal Director General of Income-tax (Systems).
The CBDT said this measures is being taken “towards better delivery of taxpayer services while ensuring accountability in official dealings”.
“Obviously, because there are quite a lot of inputs, which come to me saying, there are people being harassed, and is it the policy of the government or is it individual, you know, fancy overenthusiastic officers doing it? Inputs do come and my opportunity to interact with my officials should be the best place where I can tell them, look, please don’t do this. We are with you, when you’re definitely dealing with people who are evading or avoiding tax. But when you’re dealing with people who are duly, you know, keeping their diligence, you don’t need to be overly enthusiastic now,” she said.
Incidentally, a purported letter released by the founder of Cafe Coffee Day, V G Siddhartha before his sudden death last month, referred to the “tremendous pressure” he was under from lenders and “harassment” from Income Tax officials. And that he was “very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me”. The tax department had denied these allegations.