During the course of assessment proceedings, in the case of an assessee having income or assets outside India, information is being sought from the tax authorities situated outside India, while completing an assessment. Under the provisions of section 90 or section 90A of the Income-tax Act, information can be exchanged with the foreign tax authorities for prevention of evasion or avoidance of income tax chargeable under this Act or under the corresponding law in force in that country or specified territory, as the case may be.
The time limit for completion of an assessment or reassessment has been provided in the provisions of section 153 and 153B of the Income-tax Act. These provisions were amended vide Finance Act, 2011 to exclude the time taken in obtaining information (form foreign tax authorities) from the time prescribed for completion of assessment or reassessment in the case of an assessee. This time period to be excluded would start from the date on which the process of getting information is initiated by making a reference by the competent authority in India to the foreign tax authorities and end with the date on which information is received by the Commissioner. Currently, this period of exclusion is limited to six months.
Foreign inquiries generally by nature take longer time for obtaining information. It is, therefore, proposed that this time limit of six months be extended to one year.
These amendments will take effect from the 1st day of July, 2012.