Months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed dissatisfaction with the Central Board of Direct Taxes for harassing taxpayers, the Income-Tax department has chosen as many as 58,319 cases randomly for scrutiny under the faceless assessment scheme and disposed of 7,116 cases already, Hindustan Times reported.
The tax agency had launched the faceless assessment scheme on October 7, 2019. The scheme has provided for assessment of income tax in electronic mode, where taxpayers need not see face-to-face any tax officer or visit an I-T office and can e-file reply on the income tax portal.
The faceless assessment system has been a game-changer in the arena of direct taxation, Hindustan Times quoted a top official of the Income-Tax department as saying.”It (faceless assessment scheme) has empowered the taxpayers and has, as a foremost mechanism, altered the facets and perception of overall tax administration in India.”
While the 7,116 cases scrutinised under the first phase of the scheme have been disposed of with assessment orders issued without any additions, the department has proposed to make additions in as many as 291 cases. These cases have been submitted to the Risk Management unit, an official source said.
The source said that in all the cases, the grievances of over-pitched assessment or harassment of taxpayers/tax professionals had almost been eliminated. The taxpayers have been advised to check their registered e-filing accounts/e-mail ids for notices or updates, the source added.
Now all the communications with taxpayers are made electronically by a central cell in Delhi and the identity of all assessing officers remains unknown to taxpayers at all times, the source said.
Separately, a Finance Ministry official said that now almost 99 per cent returns are e-filed. Out of more than 6 crore returns filed annually, only about 3 lakh returns come under scrutiny on the basis of select risk parameters.
“Cases are centrally selected for scrutiny using computer-aided selection for scrutiny. Some scrutiny cases are also selected manually on the basis of specified criteria. Old assessments can also be re-opened if the assessing officer has sufficient reason to believe that some income has escaped assessment,” the official said.
The source cited above said that earlier during assessment proceedings in scrutiny cases, taxpayers or tax professionals were required to make multiple visits to the income tax office. There were allegations and some incidences of discretion and subjective approach which often resulted in high-pitched assessments.
(With inputs from agencies)