The Income Tax E-Assessment Scheme of September 2019, aimed at reducing red-tapism in the country, does away with the need to interact with an assessment officer in person. It is part of the government’s efforts to reduce human interface between the tax administration and taxpayers, thus also eliminating the possibility of corruption.
In September, the government moved away from the process of E-Proceedings towards the process of E-Assessment so that the tax officer conducting the assessment would not be known to the taxpayer. In fact, it could be any officer located in any part of the country.
Primarily made with the view of improving the ease of compliance, the E-Assessment Scheme will also help increase transparency and efficiency of the entire process. Also, the data, now processed electronically, will provide insights with much more useful and reliable for policy-making purposes.
If anyone’s case is selected for scrutiny, the taxpayer will be able to file all the documents online. This helps the taxpayer avoid the usual visits to the Income Tax department. These cases, which are selected for scrutiny, will now be based on well-defined criteria, and will mostly include cases with serious discrepancies. Not only will this save time and energy for the officials, but it will also make things easier for the taxpayers. The Income Tax department had already identified 58,322 cases for scrutiny in the first month of operation. For this purpose, e-notices were served for the cases related to tax returns filed for the financial year 2017-18.
These cases will automatically be referred to eight different e-assessment units across the country.
The following distinct centre and units have been set up under the scheme:
- National e-assessment centre
- Regional e-assessment centre
- Assessment units
- Verification units
- Technical units
- Review units
With the help of a computer-generated Document Identification Number (DIN), the E-Assessment Scheme helps bring consistency and transparency in various tax matters and, in return, makes things simpler for the taxpayers. The DIN system will apply to all communications from the Income Tax departments like assessments, appeals, investigations and penalties, among other things. This DIN will also help taxpayers detect fake notices and letters as the notice would be verifiable on the Income Tax department's e-filing portal.
To make matters simpler, the scheme also comprises of a framework of E-Assessment centres at both the national and regional levels. Special units support these E-Assessment centres in the tax department for executing specific functions related to various aspects of an assessment.