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NEW DELHI: The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has amended the faceless penalty scheme it had brought last January to bring into effect the amendments introduced in the Finance Act of 2022, including mandatory personal hearing through electronic mode to any tax payer who has sought a hearing, showed an official order.

The Faceless Penalty (Amendment) Scheme, 2022, notified on Friday gives effect to the changes proposed in the Finance Act 2022 to section 144B of the Income Tax Act, as per the order.

The government had proposed several changes to the faceless penalty scheme in the union budget this year to streamline the scheme meant to reduce personal-interface between tax payers and officials and the discretion involved in processing cases.

Faceless Penalty (Amendment) Scheme, 2022, says that where a request for personal hearing has been received, the income-tax authority of the relevant unit shall allow such hearing. This will be through the National Faceless Penalty Centre. Such hearing will be held exclusively through video conferencing or video telephony, including use of any telecommunication application software which supports video conferencing or video telephony.

In the original scheme, granting such hearing was at the discretion of senior officials. That scheme said the chief commissioner or the director general, in charge of the regional faceless penalty centre, may approve the request for personal hearing.

CBDT had earlier also brought out faceless assessment and faceless appeal schemes. In December 2021, the tax authority had granted personal hearing as a right to tax payers in the case the faceless appeal scheme. The faceless schemes are part of the government’s initiative to bring more transparency into tax administration and to eliminate the possibility of corruption. However, difficulties faced by the administration and tax payers led to amendments. 

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