To err is human, but the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has taken a much needed step to reduce human interface in the  tax communication between assessing officer and taxpayer by moving the whole process online. According to a PTI report published in Firstpost, it would further help in reducing corruption and be beneficial for the taxpayer.

Tax Communication between Assessing Officer and Taxpayer Goes Online
Tax Communication between Assessing Officer and Taxpayer Goes Online

Taxpayers can now take advantage of a new link called “e-proceeding” that will appear on the e-filing website of the Income Tax Department, while filing his or her income tax returns.

With this in effect, the taxpayer need not visit the I-T office for any grievance issues, income tax refunds, tax filing, and scrutiny checks. The digitization will enable a simple way of communication between the taxpayer and the Income Tax Department.

E-Proceeding will be applicable to all the proceedings under the Income Tax Act of 1961

Furthermore, CBDT also asserts that this new procedure of communication will be applicable to all the proceedings under the Income Tax Act 1961. This new form of e-communication is, however, optional as the taxpayers can choose to use this new form of e-communication or submit documents manually by visiting the I-T department office.

Soon after the taxpayer registers on the web portal, an SMS and email will be sent across on their registered mobile number and email ID.

Available for all types of letters, notices, and questionnaire issued under the I-T Act

In the declaration, CBDT clarifies that the e-proceeding will be available for all types of notice, questionnaire, letter issued under various sections of the I-T Act.

“The functionality to conduct e-proceeding will be available for all types of notice, questionnaire, letter issued under various sections of the I-T Act. For example, hearing notice for assessment proceedings under sections 143(3), 147, 263 or 264 etc, proceedings under section 154 and hearing under various sections for penalty.”

“Proceedings in first appeal for hearing notice, proceedings for granting or rejecting registration applications under section 12AA, 80G under exemptions, seeking clarification for resolving e-nivaran grievances etc. can also be conducted using the e-proceeding functionality using electronic communication of notice or any document by any Income Tax authority and electronic submission of response by assessee,” the notification clarifies.

The communication to the taxpayer will be sent out from the official email ID of the Assessing Officer (AO). The email will bear the domain ‘@incometax.gov.in.’  

Once the notice, questionnaire or letter is delivered to the assessee under the e-proceeding tab in the e-filing website of the department, he can submit his or her response along with the documents/attachments on the e-filing website – incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in.

CBDT has decided to auto close e-submission time to seven days prior to the Time Barring (TB) date, if any. In case there is no TB date, and if there is a violation by the assessee, the Income Tax authority can close the e-submission whenever the compliance time is over or when final order is under preparation to avoid last minute submissions.

Income Tax authority retains the option to re-enable the e-submission date, if required.

Talking about the the new system’s use in the financial year 2017-18, a senior I-T officer added, “The CBDT had run a pilot project in this regard sometime back which has paved the way for this absolutely new regime where the taxman and the taxpayer do not have an interface. A majority of tax dealings with the taxpayer in new financial year (2017-18) will be done through the new system.”

The taxpayer still gets an option to use the new e-proceeding system, or go about it manually.

In regards to the new paper-less system, the notification also throws light on the e-proceeding system’s procedure. Upon closure or completion of any proceeding under this procedure, the final order, letter or document will be delivered to the assessee under e-proceeding tab in the e-filing website of the department. If need be, the same may also be delivered by post. In case the assessee opts for manual mode in the middle of e-proceedings on the e-filing website, further proceedings shall be conducted in manual mode.”

With the new system in place, the assessee  now can review the entire history of notices, questionnaires, letters, and his responses on the e-filing website, making the system transparent.