1. Introduction of the Centralised Communication Scheme 2018
It is a well known fact that only around 2% of India’s total population pays income tax. This could be because people who are earning taxable income and are ideally required to pay taxes on such income to the Government may not be declaring their right income in the income tax return and provide wrong information in the return or may not file the return of income itself. This leads to dangerous accumulation of black money and in turn disrupts the economy of the country and also results in denial of better civic amenities for citizens due to lack of funds.
Therefore, in addition to various measures being introduced by Government from time to time such as Black Money Act, Income Disclosure Scheme etc, there are certain inbuilt measures in the tax provision itself to bring more people into tax bracket rightfully. Income tax provisions provide for various inquiries to be carried out such as scrutiny assessment under Section 143, survey under Section 133A, re-assessment under Section 147 etc in order to verify the correctness of information already submitted in the return if any and also to find out any income that has escaped tax levy.
Tax laws also provide for collection of various information by specified income tax authorities for the purpose of the same. Such information gathering can be either from the taxpayer directly or from third party in case the tax officer can establish the need for it. In the recent past, the scope, the manner and mode of collection of information by the income-tax department has undergone a major shift. Now the legislature is widening the powers of tax department and also empowering the tax department with various provisions to enable them to collect information which are neither assessee not income specific.
Finance Act 201 introduced new provision to enable prescribed income-tax authority to verify the information which is in his/her possession relating to any person. Section 133C provides that for the purposes of verification of information in his/her possession relating to any person, prescribed income-tax authority, may, issue a notice to such person to furnish information or documents on or before specified date, verified in the specified manner which may be useful for, or relevant to, any enquiry or proceeding under the Income tax Act.
Further, to expedite the assessment, Section 133C also provides for processing of information and documents obtained and make the outcome available to the Assessing Officer for necessary action.
It may be noted that Section 133C is not assessee specific like scrutiny assessment and also proceeding for this purpose include past, present and future proceedings.
Prescribed income-tax authority for this purpose is either the Principal Director General or Director General or Principal Director or Director authorised specifically by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
Section 133C also empowers CBDT to make scheme to call for information, process the same and make the outcome available to assessing officer. This Scheme which was notified by CBDT in line with such powers is called ‘Centralised Communication Scheme’.
Centralised Communication Scheme (CCS)
In furtherance of Instruction No. 01/2018 dated 12th of February, 2018 issued by the CBDT regarding the conduct of electronic assessment proceedings, the CBDT has now notified the Centralised Communication Scheme 2018 which provides a mechanism to call for information as detailed in Section 133C.
2. Features and Highlights of the Centralised Communication Scheme
We have provided below features / highlights of Centralised Communication Scheme 2018.
- There is a centralised communication Centre (CCC) and also web portal of such centralised communication centre
- Notice shall be issued to any person requiring him to furnish information or documents for the purpose of verification of information in his possession
- Notice shall be digitally signed by prescribed income-tax authority
- Service of notice shall be by e-mail or placing a copy in the registered account on the web portal of CCC followed by intimation through SMS
- Response to the notice shall be furnished on or before specified date
- CCC and The Principal Director General of Income-tax (Systems) or the Director General of Income-tax (Systems) shall prescribe the format (machine readable structured format), procedure, and standards for furnishing response to such notice
- Prescribed income-authority shall also run sustained campaign to ensure compliance by way of sending e-mails, SMS, reminders, letters and outbound calls
- It is not necessary for the recipient of the notice to appear before prescribed income-tax authority either personally or through authorised representative in connection with any proceedings
- The Principal Director General of Income-tax (Systems) or the Director General of Income-tax (Systems) shall specify from time to time, procedures and processes for effective functioning of CCC including the following matters:
i) format and procedure for issue of notice;
ii) receipt of any information or document from the addressee in response to notice;
iii) mode and format for issue of acknowledgment of the response furnished by the addressee;
iv) provision of web portal facility including login facility, tracking status of verification, display of relevant details, and facility of download;
v) call centre to answer queries and provide support services, including outbound calls and inbound calls seeking information or clarification;
vi) managing administration functions such as receipt, scanning, data entry, storage and retrieval of information and documents in a centralised manner;
vii) grievance redressal mechanism in the Centralised Communication Centre.