Income tax department relaxes personal hearing standards by videoconference

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In an effort to make the process easier for taxpayers wanting a personal videoconference hearing while appealing a ministry tax claim, the Income Tax Department has made changes to the existing faceless appeal regime.

On December 28, the Central Commission for Direct Taxes (CBDT) notified the “Faceless Appeal Scheme, 2021” and said the Commissioner (Appeals) will allow the request for a personal hearing by video conference and communicate the date and time. time of hearing to the appellant through the Faceless National Call Center.

“Such a hearing should be conducted by videoconference or videophone, including the use of any telecommunications application software that supports videoconferencing or videotelephony, as far as is technologically feasible …” said the ‘Faceless Appeal Scheme, 2021’.

However, a person would not be allowed to appear before the Income Tax Administration, either in person or through an authorized representative in proceedings under this scheme.

Under the previous “Faceless Appeal Scheme, 2020”, a taxpayer’s request for a personal hearing to make oral submissions required the approval of the Chief Commissioner or Chief Information Officer, in charge of faceless regional call center.

Such approval was only granted if the Chief Commissioner or the Director General of IT was of the opinion that a personal hearing was required under the specified circumstances.

The anonymous appeal scheme, which aimed to remove the human interface between the taxpayer and the finance ministry, was launched on September 25, 2020 and provided for a fully anonymous appeal procedure to the commissioner (appeals).

It has allowed taxpayers to file their documents electronically, saving them the hassle of physically going to the income tax office. Under this regime, calls were randomly assigned to any agent whose identity remained unknown to the caller. The appeal decision was also based on a team.

However, cases relating to serious fraud, major tax evasion, sensitive issues and research, international tax, black money law and benami property were not covered by the regime.

The scheme ran into legal entanglements as many taxpayers took to the courts to challenge the denial of a personal hearing, following which the “Faceless Appeal Scheme, 2021” was notified on December 28.

‘The Commission shall establish suitable facilities for videoconferencing or videophony, including telecommunication application software supporting videoconferencing or videophony in places which may be necessary, so as to ensure that the caller, or his authorized representative, or any other person is not refused the benefit of this program on the sole ground that this caller or his authorized representative, or any other person does not have access to videoconferencing or videophony on his side, ”indicates the notification of the CBDT.

He further stated that notices or orders or any other electronic communication under this scheme will be delivered to the appellant, placing a certified copy thereof in the appellant’s registered account; or by sending a certified copy to the registered email address of the applicant or his authorized representative; or by uploading an authenticated copy to the caller’s mobile app followed by a real-time alert.

Such mobile application software would be developed by the Income Tax Department for mobile devices which would be downloaded and installed on the caller’s registered mobile number.

AMRG & Associates (Corporate and International Tax) Director Om Rajpurohit said the revised 2021 faceless valuation system aims to increase transparency and make the system more user-friendly.

“The new regime has covered appeal issues relating to assessment, penalty and rectification orders. In addition, the regime has emphasized the importance of communication between the appellant authorities, the appellant and the assessment officer. .

“The program also provided real-time alert notification via SMS and mobile app. However, the scope of personal hearing has been broadened, but it should only be done by video conference or video phone; however, the scope of the personal appearance was retained. out of reach once again, ”added Rajpurohit.

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