The ambitious project to conduct paperless assessment for income tax payers rose by 78 per cent over the last three years, prompting the department to roll out the regime pan-India by the end of this financial year.
The government initiative was launched in October 2015 by the I-T department’s policy-making body–the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)–in select metro cities with an aim to reduce the visit by assesses to tax offices and their interface with the taxman, thereby curbing instances of corruption.
A latest blue print prepared by the department on the subject states that the number of paperless or e-assessments over the internet has seen growth in the last three years.
“During the financial year 2015-16, a total of 1,014 cases were completed under the pilot project (e-assessment).
“The same was completed in approximately 14,000 cases during the 2016-17 fiscal. In this fiscal (2017-18), till July 31, assessment orders in around 4,100 such cases has been passed in the seven metro cities and e-assessments are pending in around 74,000 cases,” the blue print accessed by PTI said.
A simple analysis of the figures states that the growth in the number of cases being processed in an e-environment has jumped slightly over 78 times.
The blue print adds that for cases which “are selected for scrutiny during the 2017-18 fiscal and onwards, the Board (CBDT) has decided to utilise the e-proceeding facility for conduct of assessment on pan-India basis.”
“Introduction of e-proceedings in time barring scrutiny cases is also contemplated,” the blue print said.
A scrutiny process entails submission of multiple documents by the taxpayer to the assessing officer before their case is processed.
A senior I-T officer involved in the project said the CBDT is thrashing out certain “logistical and minor policy issues” after which the new regime will be ushered fully in the department.
“A lot of awareness has to be made so that the taxpayer knows that there is a new system in place,” he said.
The pilot project is being run in seven cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Hyderabad.
An official statement issued after the conclusion of the recent two-day ‘Rajaswa Gyan Sangam’ conference (national meeting of top tax officers of the country) had said that the government wants I-T assessing officers “be encouraged to maximise e—assessment in a phased manner and to ensure that work be completed online so that there is complete transparency.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the conference, had also asked taxmen to create an environment that instills confidence among honest taxpayers and uproots corruption.
The PTI had first reported in April this year that all the Income Tax Department related proceedings will henceforth be conducted online.
A new link or window called ‘e-proceeding’ has been hosted in the personal login of the taxpayer on the e-filing website–https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in.
The new regime of e-communication will, however, be voluntary and a taxpayer can take a call on whether to conduct his dealing with the taxman over the e-system or through the existing procedure of manual submissions of documents by visiting the tax office.
Once a taxpayer registers on the web portal, he or she will get a confirmation SMS and email on their registered mobile number and email ID, indicating success.
The functionality to conduct e-proceeding will be available for all types of notices, questionnaires, letter issued under various sections of the I-T Act, the CBDT had said.
The new e-procedure, the CBDT had said, is a part of the e-governance initiative to facilitate a simple way of communication between the I-T department and the taxpayer without visiting the I-T office.