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Section 148A- All about Section 148A of the Income Tax Act

Updated on :  

08 min read.

Newly inserted section 148A now specifically requires the Assessing Officer to issue a notice if they decide to initiate re­assessment. Therefore, a procedure has been laid down for the Assessing Officer under section 148A, which must be adhered to after 1st April 2021.

What is section 148A, and what does it mean for taxpayers?

In Budget 2021, the government introduced Section 148A in the Income Tax Act. Suppose the income tax officer has information that the taxpayer has escaped income for any assessment year on which tax is payable. In that case, the new provision requires that the income tax officer provide a chance to the taxpayer to explain their case before issuing notice. Under section 148A, the assessee gets a chance to be heard by the officer.

An assessing officer has to give not less than seven days but not more than 30 days to the assessee for furnishing his explanation. 

After assessing the taxpayer’s reply, the income tax officer shall decide whether it is a fit case to issue notice for income escaping assessment. If the income tax officer decides to reopen the case, a copy of the order and a notice (under Section 148) must be issued to the taxpayer. 

As per the time limitation clause, a notice cannot be issued in normal scenarios if three years have elapsed since the end of the relevant assessment year. However, notice beyond three years can be taken up only if there is evidence that the taxpayer has evaded an assessment of taxable income of at least Rs 50 lakh. However, notice can be issued beyond three years but after 10 years from the end of the relevant assessment year.

The income tax officer shall obtain the approval of specified authority before conducting any such enquiries, providing an opportunity to the taxpayer, or passing such an order. 

However, this provision is not applicable in search or requisition cases.

How is Section 148A different from Section 148 of the IT Act?

Section 148 requires that the income tax officer issue a notice to the taxpayer if there is a ‘reason to believe’ by the income tax officer that the taxpayer has escaped reporting any income in the relevant assessment year. After issuing the notice, the income tax officer may assess or reassess or re-compute the total income for such a year under Section 147 of the Income Tax Act.

However, with effect from 1st April 2021, the income tax officer shall now follow the procedure prescribed under the new provision Section 148A before issuing such notice. The new provision requires that the income tax officer conduct an inquiry or provide the taxpayer with an opportunity to be heard in relation to the information that indicates that the income chargeable to tax has escaped assessment. The income tax officer must obtain prior approval of specified authority before issuing such notice.

Different notices which individual taxpayers can receive from the income tax authorities



Sr. No.

Income tax notice

Income tax provision

1.

Notice issued for defective income tax return.

Section 139(9)

2.

Notice for initial enquiry before assessment. The income tax officer may ask for documentary proof to verify your claim in ITR.

Section 142(1)

3.

Notice for scrutiny of ITR (detailed scrutiny). The Assessing Officer may issue such notice to confirm the genuineness and correctness of various exemptions, deductions, and other claims made by the taxpayer in the income tax return or follow up on the notice issued under Section 142(1).

Section 143(2)

4.

Notice for reassessment if the income tax officer disagrees with the previous assessment of the ITR of the taxpayer and believes that the income has escaped the assessment.

Section 148

5.

Notice of demand for any tax, penalty, or other amounts due from the taxpayer.

Section 156

6.

This notice is issued when the income tax refund (full/partial) for an assessment year is adjusted against the taxpayer’s tax demand due(of any previous year).

Section 245

Conclusion

Since Section 148A is effective from 1st April 2021, any notice issued to the taxpayer under Section 148 after the said date, without following the procedure under Section 148A (i.e. without giving an opportunity of being heard) would be invalid and contrary to the provisions of the Income Tax Act.

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