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Rules of formulation of the income tax sector to enable physical hearing according to the faceless assessment scheme

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The Income Tax Department is drafting rules to enable physical hearing in case there are additions, either in tax or in revenue, to taxpayers under the faceless assessment scheme, a senior official said.

Wherever additional is proposed – both for revenue and taxes – a notice of appearance will be issued and taxpayers will be given the final opportunity and the response will be considered, said SK Gupta, a member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes ( CBDT), during a webinar on Wednesday.

If physical hearing is required through video conferencing, we may allow it; the rules are being made, he said, referring to governments’ recent reforms regarding faceless tax assessment.

Gupta added that the process of issuing penalties on a faceless basis was in progress and would be put into action as soon as faceless complaints start from September 25 to come out of the ground and dental problems are resolved.

Guidelines for physical verification are also being drafted within the faceless assessment as there have been cases where taxpayer premises have not been traceable or when the taxpayer was not responding to communication from the department, he said.

The jurisdiction of the location of the appraisers will be used instead of the location of the tax authorities in cases where the authorities have to refer to a legal position, explained Gupta when asked about the rule that the appraisal officer will follow in faceless appraisals as appraisers and taxpayers are not in the same geographical location.

India introduced faceless tax assessments on a pilot basis in October 2019, taking about 58,000 cases.

However, of those elected, there was no response from taxpayers in over 22,000 cases, which was a worrying trend, Gupta said.

In over 13,000 cases, orders have been passed and in less than 500 cases indicate that notices have been issued, but in over 22,000 cases no response has been received, and in fact in 6,000 cases emails have been returned, he said.

Gupta demanded that the corporate sector as well as taxpayers respond to emails and text messages from the tax department, saying taxpayers should not block emails from the department and provide the latest contact information, including phone numbers mobile to enable smooth ratings.

We decided yesterday that we could send mail letters or physical copies to taxpayers to educate on the issue in a centralized way, he added.

In the transformation into faceless appraisal, about 53% of the 40,000 income tax officers will be involved in all appraisal units, technical and legal.

Although there have been some concerns among tax officials about the change, Gupta said officers were being brought on board through training and awareness programs.

Undoubtedly, there is concern. Whenever there is a difference, there is embarrassment. We are thinking about training officers, making it as easy as possible for them. If they face difficulties, we will correct it, he said.

For the convenience of the taxpayer, CBDT is updating the electronic registration infrastructure to handle higher loads from December, while the centralized IT processing center for IT returns will move to an upgraded platform that can handle over 10 million returns per day from the current 600,000-700,000 a day.

The tax department has issued 3.2 million refunds amounting to ALL 1.06 billion as of the date in the current financial year.



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