There are 3,130 tax personnel, including 600 Income Tax (I-T) officers, who are busy implementing the faceless e-assessment scheme of the I-T department. Out of 58,319 cases selected for faceless assessment, already 8,700 cases have been disposed off. By mid-September, the I-T department expects to complete this task, says a senior official from tax department.
“This is the first time that we are doing the faceless e-assessment. The work has picked up since July, after having addressed all the issues related to infrastructure, manpower, hardware and software. Our target is to finish all the cases by mid-September,” says SK Gupta, principal chief commissioner of income tax and member of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
The faceless e-assessment scheme was first announced by the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the 2019 budget speech and is seen as a big leap towards transparent tax administration.
In October 2019, the I-T department rolled out the faceless e-assessment scheme that eliminates physical interface between an assessing officer and an assessee. Eight cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune are covered under the scheme.
Mr Gupta says the cases taken up for faceless e-assessment include a mix of returns filed by individuals, businesses, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as big companies.
How the faceless e-assessment works?
The National e-Assessment Centre (NEC) in Delhi is the single point of contact for the taxpayer as well as for all units conducting assessment. The NEC issues notices under Section 143(2) to the assesse for which the assessee is required to respond within 15 days of receipt of notice. Upon the issue of a notice, NEC allocates the case to any assessment unit through an automated allocation system, ensuring anonymity.
The conventional system of scrutiny assessment involved a high level of personal interaction between the tax payer and the I-T department officials. Under the faceless e-assessment system, the tax payer would not know by whom his/her return is being assessed or in which city.
“The anonymity and the absence of human interface will go a long way in addressing the issue of harassment as well as curb instances of corruption” Mr Gupta says, adding “Instead of territorial jurisdiction, we have brought it dynamic jurisdiction”.