Paperless income tax assessment rises 78%; all-India roll out by fiscal end
New Delhi: The number of income tax payers opting for paperless assessment rose by 78% over the last three years, prompting the department to roll out it his ambitious scheme across India by the end of this financial year.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the policy-making body of the income tax (I-T) department, launched the initiative in select metro cities with an aim to reduce visits by assesses to tax offices and their interface with the taxman, thereby curbing instances of corruption.
The latest blueprint prepared by the department on the subject states that the number of paperless, or e-assessments, over the internet has seen growth in the last three years. “During the financial year 2015-16, a total of 1,014 cases were completed under the pilot project (e-assessment). The same was completed in approximately 14,000 cases during the 2016-17 fiscal. In this fiscal (2017-18), till July 31, assessment orders in around 4,100 such cases has been passed in the seven metro cities and e-assessments are pending in around 74,000 cases,” the blueprint accessed by PTI said.
A simple analysis of the figures showed that the growth in the number of cases being processed in an e-environment has jumped slightly over 78 times. The blueprint adds that for cases which are selected for scrutiny during the 2017-18 fiscal and onwards, the CBDT has decided to utilise the e-proceeding facility for assessment on pan-India basis. “Introduction of e-proceedings in time barring scrutiny cases is also contemplated,” the blue print said.
A scrutiny process entails submission of multiple documents by taxpayers to the assessing officer before their case is processed. A senior I-T officer involved in the project said the CBDT is thrashing out certain “logistical and minor policy issues” after which the new regime will be ushered fully in the department. “A lot of awareness has to be made so that the taxpayer knows that there is a new system in place,” he said.
The pilot project is being run in seven cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Hyderabad. An official statement issued after the conclusion of the recent two-day ‘Rajaswa Gyan Sangam’ conference (national meeting of top tax officers of the country) had said that the government wants I-T assessing officers “be encouraged to maximise e-assessment in a phased manner and to ensure that work be completed online so that there is complete transparency.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the conference, had also asked taxmen to create an environment that instills confidence among honest taxpayers and uproots corruption. PTI had first reported in April this year that all the I-T department related proceedings will henceforth be conducted online.
A new link or window called ‘e-proceeding’ has been hosted in the personal login of the taxpayer on the e-filing website (https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in). The new regime of e-communication will, however, be voluntary and a taxpayer can take a call on whether to conduct his dealing with the taxman over the e-system or through the existing procedure of manual submissions of documents by visiting the tax office. Once a taxpayer registers on the web portal, he or she will get a confirmation SMS and email on their registered mobile number and email ID, indicating success.
The functionality to conduct e-proceeding will be available for all types of notices, questionnaires, letter issued under various sections of the I-T Act, the CBDT had said. The new e-procedure, the CBDT had said, is a part of the e-governance initiative to facilitate a simple way of communication between the I-T department and the taxpayer without visiting the I-T office.
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