National e-Assessment Centre to be set up for `faceless assessment'
31 August 2020
The Income Tax Department proposes to set up a National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC) and a network of Regional e-Assessment Centres to implement the `Faceless Assessment Scheme’, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13 August.
The regional assessment network would have assessment units, verification units, technical units and review units. The system allows for dynamic jurisdiction, team-based working, and functional specialisation and does away with human interface altogether. Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Mumbai, Patanjali Jha, said this during a webinar on “Faceless Assessment Scheme and Virtual Court Hearings”, organised by KPMG India.
Explaining how the new system is one designed for the 21st century, the Principal Chief Commissioner said there is no discretion in selection of assessment cases, unlike in the case of manual selection in the current system. In place of single territorial jurisdiction, there will be automated random allocation of cases. While notices used to be issued both manually and on the system, issue of notices will now be done through a central mechanism (by NeAC) in electronic mode.
There will be no physical meetings between taxpayers and officers. Wide discretion and subjective assessment are being replaced by team-based assessment and a system wherein draft order is issued in one city, review is done in another city while finalisation is done in yet another city. This would lead to an objective, fair and just assessment order, said the Principal Chief Commissioner.
The webinar was organised to promote the awareness amongst the stakeholders about the new faceless assessment scheme and had an overwhelming participation of more than 1,000 participants. The department intends to hold more such outreach programmes in coming days to educate the tax payers about the new faceless assessment scheme.
Faceless Assessment Scheme was rolled out in the Income Tax Department as a pilot project in September 2019. Initially, a limited number of cases were picked up for faceless assessment, which was being done at eight centres in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of the scheme to the entire department on 13 August 2020. The scheme is also being extended to the first appellate authority, ie, Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) from 25 September 2020.