Tax officials express concerns over efficacy of faceless I-T assessment

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Tax officers have expressed concerns over the faceless income tax assessment system initiated by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), saying it will create procedural difficulties and may hit revenue collections.

The assessing officers will face difficulties and will not be able to make proper assessment without looking into books of accounts of taxpayers.

Income Tax Employees Federation and the Income Tax Gazetted Officers’ Association in a joint letter to CBDT chairman said the scheme has not taken into consideration principle of natural justice and could lead to harassment of taxpayers rather than intended objective of ease.

“The scheme is being implemented in a hurry without considering the concerns of the majority of the stakeholders,” according to the letter dated October 3.

“We express our strong displeasure on this type of unilateral decision-making as it is not in the interest of the efficient working of the department,” it said.

This was done without stakeholders consultation, the letter said, adding that it would also lead to HR related issues as well.

It is to be noted that the government last fiscal missed its direct tax collection target, and for this fiscal it has set higher revenue mobilisation goal of Rs 13.80 lakh crore.

Earlier this month, the income tax department launched a faceless e-assessment scheme to eliminate interface between an assessing officer and a taxpayer to reduce the scope for corruption and potential overreach by tax officials.

The initiative from the tax department came following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s August 15 address during which he had said wealth creators should not be viewed with suspicion as they serve the nation and deserve respect and encouragement.

To begin with, 58,322 income tax cases have been selected under the National e-Assessment Center (NeAC). NeAC is an independent office that will look after the work of e-assessment scheme which is recently notified for faceless e-assessment for income tax payers.

There would be an NeAC in Delhi to be headed by principal chief commissioner of income tax.

There are eight Regional e-Assessment Centres (ReAC) set up in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad which would comprise assessment unit, review unit, technical unit and verification units. Each ReAC will be headed by the chief commissioner of income tax.E-assessment Scheme 2019 was notified on September 12.

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