Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday sought to assure businesses that they need not worry about any overreach by tax officers.
Speaking to reporters on the measures taken by the government to stimulate the economic growth rate, the minister said a scheme for faceless assessment of income tax returns have been implemented from Friday.
"This will remove any element of discretion and any feeling of harassment that taxpayers may have," the minister said. She also said that a system of electronic numbering of tax department communication has been implemented that will remove discretion at the level of officers. Also, a scheme for settling past tax disputes has been implemented. The minister said that as a result, small or technical errors will not lead to prosecution. “Prosecution will only be sanctioned by a collegium of top level officials," said the minister.
The scheme for assessing tax returns electronically without any personal contact between officials and tax payers notified on Friday allows personal representation in specific circumstances such as appeals against the assessment.
The scheme is part of efforts to reduce human discretion in the assessment and scrutiny of tax returns that in turn could help eliminate possibilities of corruption. The finance ministry had introduced an enabling provision for the scheme in the law through Finance Act of 2018.