CBDT Initiatives for Email based / Paperless e-Assessment Proceedings
A. e-Assessment in Kolkata and Hyderabad too [23 May 2016]
Paperless assessment/ e-mail based assessment on a pilot basis was commenced in the financial year 2015-16 in non-corporate charges of five cities i.e. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. The e-mail based assessment scheme has now been extended to two more cities, namely Hyderabad and Kolkata during the current financial year.
It shall now be open for all the taxpayers assessed in these seven cities, whose cases have been selected under scrutiny to opt for being scrutinized under the e-mail based paperless assessment proceedings by giving their consent. However, in case of practical difficulties in submission of scanned copies of voluminous documents through e-mail, the documents could be received by the assessing officer in physical form after recording reasons for the same.
CBDT / Income Tax Department is making all out efforts to create awareness and a sense of confidence for taxpayers under scrutiny of 7 cities (at present) , so that they can give their consent for being covered under the e-mail based paperless assessment proceedings. CBDT has requested that all the taxpayers of the aforesaid seven cities, whose cases are picked up for scrutiny, may convey their consent to their respective Assessing Officers in order to avail the facility of e-mail based paperless assessment proceedings.
Last year, the CBDT had initiated implementation of “e-mail based paperless assessment proceedings” or say “e-assessments” and the initiative could deliver disposal of several cases. Based on positive signals from assessees and growing ease of completion of assessment proceedings through the initiative, the CBDT has now decided to cover more cities for implementing e-mail based communication scheme for paperless assessment proceedings.
B. CBDT takes initiative for E-Assessments at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad & Chennai and insists to Streamline Scrutiny Assessment Proceedings [31 Dec. 2015]
The CBDT has initiated a pilot project of e-mail based scrutiny assessment in select cases/ cities and has taken steps to streamline scrutiny proceedings.
To provide fair and transparent tax administration and to continuously improve taxpayer services, the CBDT has taken another step and has issued instructions / directions to the Assessing Officers / Income Tax Deptt to be specific in enquiries made in the case of tax payers whose returns are under scrutiny.
The directions are comprehensive and cover cases selected through Computer Aided Scrutiny Selection (CASS) for limited scrutiny for verification of information contained in Annual Information Return (AIR)/ Form 26AS or received through Central Information Branch, or complete scrutiny.
The assessing officers have been advised by the CBDT to inform the assessee forthwith of the reasons for limited scrutiny, confine enquiries on the specific points for which the case has been selected and conclude the proceedings expeditiously in a limited number of hearings. Cases selected for limited scrutiny can be converted to complete scrutiny only with the approval of the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax/ Commissioner of Income tax if the potential income escaping assessment exceeds a certain monetary limit.
As per CBDT directives, in all cases the initial notice will be accompanied with a specific questionnaire. Any addition to income or disallowance of deductions will be made only after following due process of natural justice.
The CBDT has also initiated a pilot project for carrying out an e-mail based scrutiny assessment in select cases of non-corporate cases at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Chennai. Through this pilot project, the Income Tax Department endeavours to completely remove the need for the taxpayer to visit the ITO while moving towards paperless scrutiny assessment proceedings.
Also, the CBDT has directed all its officers to mention e-mail address and phone numbers in all communications to facilitate electronic interface of the taxpayer with the Department.
These recent measures taken by the CBDT are basically are steps towards obviating the need for avoidable personal interface with the Department and ushering in a non-adversarial tax regime.