CA Umesh Sharma
Arjuna (Fictional Character): Krishna, recently on 7th November 2014, the Central Board of Direct Taxes has issued instructions for reducing hardship of taxpayers in Income tax scrutiny. But Krishna, what is this scrutiny?
Krishna (Fictional Character): Arjuna, the taxpayer files his Income Tax Return. Income Tax Scrutiny means detailed assessment of Income Tax return by Income tax department. After collecting and verifying particular information about taxpayer, the filed return and books of accounts, etc. are examined by the department to check whether they are correct or not. Compliance of income tax provision by taxpayer is checked. Many myths and believes are there in the mind of the taxpayer regarding this.
Arjuna: Krishna, Please explain what is the method of Scrutiny?
Krishna: Arjuna, Income tax department now checks tax compliance with the help of Information Technology. Income Tax Department is choosing taxpayers for scrutiny by collecting information from various departments like Land records, sales tax, excise, etc. about taxpayers PAN, etc. According to section 143, Income tax Department issues scrutiny notice within six months from the end of the financial year in which return is filed. E.g. If return for F.Y. 2013-14 is filed on 25th September 2014, then Income tax department may issue notice up to 30th September 2015. After sending notice officer generally gives questionnaires to the taxpayer. As per questionnaire information is required to be given and on the basis of same Income tax liability is decided. All documents, supporting of expenses, books of accounts, etc. are required to be submitted to Income Tax Officer within specified time. Help of the tax expert can be taken by taxpayer if required. If the Income Tax Officer is satisfied and everything is correct as per law, then Assessment order is issued. Further if any dispute arises then the taxpayer and income tax department may appeal on the disputed matter.
Arjuna: Krishna, What are the criterias for selecting cases for scrutiny?
Krishna: Arjuna, generally department selects cases for scrutiny through: 1) Computer Assisted Scrutiny Selection (CASS) 2) Manual process, i.e., Income tax officer after permission of senior persons may issue scrutiny notice. There are various criterias for selecting cases for scrutiny which depends on case to case, some of the important out of them are:
These criterias may change from time to time. Further it’s the power of the department to issue notice or not in each case. Hence no perfect formula is there for selection of scrutiny.
Arjuna: Krishna, What’s there in New Instructions issued by CBDT?
Krishna: Arjuna, this Circular contains many instructions for implementation of non-adversarial tax regime. It contains that the Assessing officer should stick to reasons on the basis of which the case for scrutiny is selected. Mainly in cases of AIR/CBI/26AS, importance should be given to that point only. Unnecessarily confusion should not be created by issuing long and unrelated questionnaire. Similarly, order were high pitch assessment are made without any legal base should be avoided. While granting refund, it should be given according to the TDS certificates if difference in 26AS is found. Further it is also mentioned in this circular that Income tax officer should complete the scrutiny in the given time and legal frame. Tax payer’s grievances should be reduced and thus non-adversarial tax regime can be promoted. But in practical sense real picture may be different, due to excessive work load of income tax officer in some areas and due to ignorance of law and incomplete information provided by the taxpayer. For better tax compliance security measures are used by the department, which sometimes results in increase in revenue and sometimes increase in tension of officer and tax payer both.
Arjuna: Krishna, What should the taxpayer learn from this Scrutiny?
Krishna: Arjuna, many taxpayers become frightened after receiving scrutiny notice. It is rightly said, “Kar Bhala To Ho Bhala” if taxpayer pays proper taxes then he will not have to fear of Income tax Department. As Honeybee collects Honey from the flowers without hurting it, Income Tax Department should collect tax from taxpayer without hurting them, which is the also the ultimate intention of any revenue laws. But now-a-days the intention of many businessmen or taxpayers is at stake and complicated tax laws have worsened the situation. Hope non-adversarial tax regime leads to increase in tax compliance and collection.