When tax returns are filed by taxpayers, the returns automatically falls into the hands of the unit formed by income tax department called Central Processing Unit (CPC). CPC processes the returns (not all) filed on limited aspects such as arithmetical error, incorrect claim, excessive deduction or wrong exemption. The process of returns by CPC is just a basic examination and is also automatic which is carried out by the computer system based on algorithm fed into the system. Hence, the process of return by CPC may not be complete in all aspects.
Who is an Assessing Officer?
Tax returns which are either processed or unprocessed by CPC may need further detailed enquiry in order to ensure correctness of returned income and also to discover intentional/unintentional errors if any. This process of detailed examination of return of income is called ‘assessment’. An Individual officer of Income-tax department who is entrusted with this task of assessment is called as ‘Assessing Officer’
An Assessing Officer (AO) is an income tax officer who has jurisdiction to make an assessment of a taxpayer (assessee) who is liable to tax under the Act. The designation of AOs are Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Director, Income tax officer, Additional Commissioner, Additional Director, Joint Commissioner or Joint Director and which AO would handle the return filed by you may vary according to the volume of income/nature of trade as assigned by the Central Board of Direct Tax (CBDT or Board).
What is the importance of having an Assessing Officer and jurisdiction?
As already mentioned AO is required for detailed examination of return of income to ensure its correctness keeping in mind income tax law provisions, various circulars, notifications, instructions issued by Board and application of mind in interpreting the same. In this process, AO may re-compute taxable income of the taxpayer and for this purpose, he may also ask for books of accounts, various other supporting documents or any other details from the taxpayer for verification. This is initiated by issuing a notice to the taxpayer. Once the assessment is complete, assessment order and tax demand if any is also served on the taxpayer. Further, taxpayers may also write to income tax department for any of their concerns such as rectification of return, issue of refund etc.
Thus, jurisdiction becomes imperative for all kind of correspondence from the Income-tax department and also to Income-tax department from taxpayer. Jurisdiction of the AO is the geographical area for which AO has his rights and duties. Every taxpayer is assigned a jurisdictional AO based on the address mentioned by the taxpayer in his Permanent Account Number (PAN) record and his income, to enable carrying out the assessment in a smooth and efficient manner. Any communication from income tax department to the taxpayer and from the taxpayer to the AO happens only through jurisdictional AO. Jurisdictional AO is an assigned income tax officer for every taxpayer.
What is the procedure to find jurisdictional Assessing Officer, AO Code etc?
I. Procedure to find Jurisdictional AO without logging into your profile on income tax website
Jurisdictional AO can be found here
Above link will take you to the below page.
Enter your PAN and mobile number and click on submit to go to the next page as below:
Enter the OTP sent to your mobile number and click on ‘validate’. This will provide you with the below page providing the details of your jurisdictional AO.
II. Procedure to know your jurisdiction by logging into income tax e-filing portal
Login to your profile here which pops up the below screen:
Enter your login details and click on ‘My Profile’ under ‘Profile Settings’
Jurisdictional AO details would appear under PAN details.