Income Tax Department Closely Monitoring Implementation Of Faceless Assessment Scheme

The department is also ensuring there is no increased compliance burden on the taxpayer.

The Income Tax Department head office in Mumbai. (Photo: BloombergQuint)
The Income Tax Department head office in Mumbai. (Photo: BloombergQuint)

The Income Tax department is closely monitoring the implementation of faceless assessment if returns picked up for scrutiny to ensure there is no increased compliance burden on the taxpayer, Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said on Friday.

Assuaging concerns of the industry on how a taxpayer would explain their position to the income tax department, Pandey said the provision of video conferencing would also be there under the faceless assessment scheme for cases which require "deeper engagements".

"We wanted a system where an honest taxpayer is not harassed even if his case is selected for assessment. If somebody has understated income, he should be given fair chance to explain whatever is the tax due and he has an opportunity to pay the tax," Pandey said at an event organised jointly by Ficci and ET Markets.

He said the number of cases picked up for scrutiny has come down from 5-6 lakh for 3-4 crore ITRs filed, to less than 2 lakhs for 7 crore ITRs.

Will Faceless Assessments Reduce Taxpayer Harassment?

On apprehension of increased compliance burden, while dealing with faceless assessment, Pandey said "we are very, very closely monitoring this. From system perspective also we are taking all step so that at least people who are trying to interact with us on this faceless platform their life should be easy".

He said important meetings are currently happening via digital platforms, and there is no reason why faceless assessment and faceless appeals cannot take place.

Income Tax Department To Intimate Taxpayers Under Scrutiny About Faceless Assessment

"The outcome of this system is that it is going to be very, very fair, have a very minimal scope of discretion. Our understanding is this will lead to very, very fair and reasonable order and good quality order and therefore appeals and litigation could be avoided if we are able to pass a reasonable and good order in the first stage," Pandey said.

Since Aug. 13, all Income Tax returns picked up for scrutiny, except those relating to search and seizure and international tax, are being assessed under faceless assessment.

Faceless Assessment Is Being Implemented In A Hurried Manner: Tax Officers

Under Faceless Scrutiny Assessment, a central computer picks up tax returns for scrutiny based on risk parameters and mismatch and then allots them randomly to a team of officers.

This allocation is reviewed by officers at another randomly selected location and only if concurred, a notice is sent by the centralised computer system. All such notices need to be responded electronically, without the requirement of visiting a tax office or meeting any official.

Faceless appeals System would start from Sept. 25.