I-T Dept to extend online scrutiny of assessment to more taxpayers: report

The Income Tax Department is planning to extend the online scrutiny of I-T assessments to more taxpayers after successfully completing over 1,000 scrutiny I-T assessments under a maiden taxpayer-friendly paperless inquiry system.

Taxpayers can now also file grievance through a new 'E-Nivaran' Form.

The Income tax department is reported to have completed scrutiny assessments in 1,001 cases till now. The department had contacted 6,481 assesses, of which 1,812 responded positively to the e-assessment plan, PTI reported quoting income tax officials.

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had launched a pilot project last year to reduce taxpayers' visit to the tax office and their interface with the taxman. It is now set to extend the initiative as more taxpayers are willing to opt for the scheme at ITR filing stage itself.

The project, which started with assessees in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Chennai region, will now be extended to Kolkata and Hyderabad, senior officials of the tax department said, adding that biggest "challenge" in achieving better success in this new project was obtaining the consent of the taxpayers.

The problem, according to Assessing Officers (AOs), who deal directly with taxpayers, is that while in some cases the taxpayer could not be reached as their CAs or authorized representatives handle email IDs for the assesses, in some other cases the assesses have withdrawn consent to join the scheme.

The I-T Department plans to include a suggestion for online filing of returns in the I-T form or the e-mails sent to individual tax payers.

"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 report quoted the official as saying.

The paperless I-T assessment scheme is expected to be 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 limiting the interface between assessing officer and the taxpayer, CBDT aims to end corruption and bring hassle-free experience for the taxpayer.

The income tax assessee will also escape the time-consuming scrutiny assessment procedure which entails production of a number of documents and financial statements.

The problem, however, is the limited response as it has only brought about 1 per cent of cases under the online tax filing procedure.

Meanwhile, CBDT has issued clarification to the effect that emails will become the new mode of interaction between the AO and the tax-paying individual.

An official notification issued earlier spelling out the procedure, formats and standards for ensuring "secured transmission" of emails between the AO and the assessee had stated that all communication between the two sides will be done in PDF file format and over bonafide email IDs.

The taxman will send emails, for issuing notices and summons, through the government registered '@incometax.gov.in' email domain and the attached PDF document will have his or her designation and signature.