Provision for e-appeal.

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In order to impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability to the assessment process under the Act a new e-assessment scheme has already been introduced. With the advent of the e-assessment scheme, most of the functions/ processes under the Act, including of filing of return, processing of returns, issuance of refunds or demand notices and assessment, which used to require person-to-person contact between the taxpayer and the Income-tax Department, are now in the electronic mode. This is a result of efforts by the Department to harness the power of technology in reforming the system. All these processes are now not only faceless but also very taxpayer-friendly. Now a taxpayer can manage to comply with most of his obligations under the Act without any requirement for physical attendance in the offices of the Department.

The filing of appeals before Commissioner (Appeals) has already been enabled in an electronic mode. However, the first appeal process under the Commissioner (Appeals), which is one of the major functions/ processes that is not yet in full electronic mode. A taxpayer can file appeal through his registered account on the e-filing portal. However, the process that follows after filing of appeal is neither electronic nor faceless. In order to ensure that the reforms initiated by the Department to eliminate human interface from the system reach the next level, it is imperative that an e-appeal scheme be launched on the lines of e-assessment scheme.

Accordingly, it is proposed to insert sub-section (6A) in section 250 of the Act to provide for the following: –

• Empowering Central Government to notify an e-appeal scheme for disposal of appeal so as to impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability.

• Eliminating the interface between the Commissioner (Appeals) and the appellant in the course of appellate proceedings to the extent technologically feasible.

• Optimizing utilization of the resources through economies of scale and functional specialisation.

• Introducing an appellate system with dynamic jurisdiction in which appeal shall be disposed of by one or more Commissioner (Appeals).

It is also proposed to empower the Central Government, for the purpose of giving effect to the scheme made under the proposed sub-section, by notification in the Official Gazette, to direct that any of the provisions of this Act relating to jurisdiction and procedure of disposal of appeal shall not apply or shall apply with such exceptions, modifications and adaptations as may be specified in the notification. Such directions are to be issued on or before 31st March 2022. It is proposed that every notification issued shall be required to be laid before each House of Parliament.

This amendment will take effect from 1st April, 2020.

[Clause 95]

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