The government has appointed former I-T officials or officials from the Indian Revenue Service as income-tax ombudsmen. These officers are independent of the jurisdiction of the income-tax department and hence, operate as an independent arbiter.

Where is the ombudsman’s office?
The government has set up offices for 12 ombudsmen. They are stationed in Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Chandigarh, Bhopal and Kochi. More centres may be set up in future. In Mumbai, the office is situated at Mittal Tower in Nariman Point.

What cases can the ombudsman review?

The ombudsman can help you resolve issues linked to delay of tax refunds, such as if your refund came without a cheque or refund voucher, delay in updation of tax demand registers due to which tax-assessee was harassed etc.

If your tax return has come up for scrutiny and you find that there was lack of transparency in selecting it, you can complain about that too.

Other cases the ombudsman can review include delay in issuing you a permanent account number (PAN), or in disposing off an interest-waiver case and in rectifying applications. He can also review failure to credit tax deducted at source.

If the income-tax officer has been rude to you or has not been working during office hours, that too can be brought to the ombudsman’s notice.

However, if the issue you are bringing to notice is being looked at as an appeal, revision, reference or writ by any income-tax authority or appellate authority or tribunal or court, the ombudsman cannot help you.

How are complaints resolved?
The ombudsman mediates between the income-tax department and the tax-payer or tax assessee and seeks to settle the issue and pass a decision also called ‘award’, based on the income-tax rules and guidelines.

Can you complain directly to the ombudsman?
The ombudsman’s doors are open to anyone facing a problem related to income tax, but there is a process before he can be approached.

On facing a problem, you must file a written complaint with the officer senior to the officer you want to complain against. Only if the authority senior to the person whom you are complaining against rejects your complain or doesn’t reply within 30 days of writing can you write to the ombudsman.

However, note that the ombudsman is to be made known of the issue within one year after the 30 day wait for a response from the senior I-T official.

“We will need an acknowledgment to prove that you had written to the officer,” an official at the ombudsman’s office in Mumbai told DNA Money.

How to file a complaint?
There is no set format for writing a letter to the ombudsman. But your complaint must be in writing and should mention the following:

Your name and address
Income-tax authority against who you are complaining
The documents that you had submitted to the income-tax authorities
The issue you are seeking redressed

Also mention in your letter details such as the date on which you first complained to the income-tax authorities, the higher authority that you approached after the first level failed to respond and the time gap since when you have been following on your complaint.

This letter, signed, can be either faxed or mailed to the ombudsman. In some centres, an electronic complaint can also be filed. However, when you are sending an electronic complaint, you have to sign the same in the ombudsman’s office “at the earliest opportunity.”

What documents must you submit?
The letter is to be submitted along with relevant income proof or documents supporting your claim and complaint. The complaint letters written to the income-tax authority must also be furnished. Three sets of the documents are required, said an official at the ombudsman’s office.

Where to send your complaint letter?
Most ombudsmen operate out of the income-tax offices or Aaykar Bhawans in the respective cities. The address of the ombudsman’s office and the contact details are listed on the website: www.incometaxindiapr. gov.in/incometaxindiacr/listContent.jsp?p=OMBUDSMAN.html

The Mumbai office is situated at:
115, Mittal Tower,
B-Wing, Nariman Point,
Mumbai – 400021
Tel: 22829930, 22829936
Email: Ombudsman.mumbai@incometaxindia.gov.in

What sort of decisions can the ombudsman arrive at?
If no resolution is reached in a month’s time after receiving the complaint, the ombudsman can pass a decision called award. This decision has to be in line with the documents presented to him and the prevailing tax laws. The ombudsman can ask the concerned I-T officials to hasten the process if they have delayed payments, and even apologise to the taxpayer. If the ombudsman finds it fit to award a monetary compensation, he can. However, this amount is a token amount — it cannot be higher than Rs 1,000.

How soon are complaints resolved?
The income-tax authority is given a month’s time from the day of the ombudsman’s decision to implement the same.

Do I have to accept the decision of the ombudsman?
The decision pronounced by the ombudsman is to be obeyed by the I-T department. But for that to happen, you as the complainant have to accept the decision. You have to let the ombudsman know your acceptance of the “full and final settlement” within 15 days of receiving the letter stating the ombudsman’s decision, or the time frame mentioned in the letter.

If you fail to do so, the “award shall lapse and be of no effect,” say the guidelines.

What happens to the complaints?
After you complain to the ombudsman, not only will it benefit you, but also benefit others. The ombudsman is asked to make a note of the problem areas for taxpayers, which is then sent to the central board of direct taxes (CBDT) and the Union finance ministry. He also sends a report once a year to the government of India and the CBDT to inform them of officials who have not been acting the right way. Thus, approaching the ombudsman can help the government and authorities better our tax process.

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9 Comments

  1. VASANTHA KUMARI RADHARAMANAN NAIR PRAVEEN says:

    I also request you that you may send by sms on this message to mob no 995490745. PAN APUPP2859K

  2. VASANTHA KUMARI RADHARAMANAN NAIR PRAVEEN says:

    I have filed my first IT return on 4th October 2013 after recieving royalty on abook from M/s PHI Learning Pvt. Limited by the end of July 2013 which was my income for F.Y 2013-14 and has to be assessed during A.Y 2014-15. Ack no for the return filed was 814064680041013 in which I was forced to show my income received as royalty during F.Y 2013-14 to F.Y 2012-13 as the publisher has deducted TDS from royalty towards last quarter of F.y 2012-13. Hence first return filed got belated. During F.Y 2012-13 I was having
    gross salary income of about Rs 1.57 lakhs and hence I was exempted from filing return for the salary income. In the first return filed I made calculations for tax as we make for salary income and hence I couldn’t include 80QQB exemptions for the royalty while calculating tax. I was also demanded to remit about Rs 7500 u/s 234A,234B and 234C of IT Act 1961. for settling the return for A.Y 2013-14 and therefore refund for the return filed during A.Y 2014-15 and A.Y 2015-16 got delayed. I have made submission to income tax department office at Trivandrum vide my letter dated 12-12-2014 to ITO Ward 2(1),Trivandrum vide No ASK 103121214015661.Then I submitted another request to Commissioner of Income tax Trivandrum on 23-02-15.Fr the faulty deduction made by M/s PHI Learning I have to loose huge amunt as tax and hence I enquired the way by which I can get the refund of about Rs 70000/- for A.Y 2013-14. Finally I was infrmed by Asst Commissioner of Income tax,Trivandrum that I have to apply for condonation for delay in filing IT return for A.Y 2012-13 so that I can revise the return and get exemption u/s 80QQB of IT Act 1961. It was submitted to Principal Commissioner of Income tax,Trivandrum on 09-08-2017 to grant condonation for the delay in filing IT Return for A.Y 2013-14. But the commissioner has conducted a hearing on 26-07-2018 and not given me a chance to present the circumstance under which such filing was done for the first time and got belated return. I was also informed that only if there is financial hardship, condonation will be granted. I am having a housing loan taken on 04-04-2016 for an amount of Rs 22 lakhs considering my salry income and royalty income taken in total for assessing repayment capacity. I am paying Rs 22000 per month as EMI for the loan. You are aware from my salary details against PAN APUPP2859K that I am drawing about Rs 24000 as monthly salary out of which I have to remit Rs 22000 for the loan.Besides loan interest comes to about Rs 218000 per year.Hence there is financial hardship and therefore I hereby request you to give necessary instructions to me how I can revise my IT return for A.Y 2013-14,2014-15 and 2015-16 u/s 80QQB and 10E adjustments for my arrear salary against DA or pay revision.

  3. J CHANDRA SHEKAR says:

    I am J Chandrashekar Retd from Vijaya Bank. I am claiming my refund of Rs 12720/- since 4 years I could not get till today My Pan NO ADOPC 5979K for the ASST Year 2012-2013 from Salary ward 15 (1) HMT BHavan, Bangalore They are telling pan has to be trANSFERRED FROM kOLAR/CHICKBALLAPUR WARD 2. tHOSE PEOPLE NOT PUTTING ANY EFFORT TO TRansfer. I dont know why Now I am 65 years old I cannot go every now and then Please help me to get back my refund of Rs 12720/- at the earliest and oblige sir. Kindly help me for refund.

  4. VARAHALU ARYASOMAYAJULA says:

    PAYMENT OF INCOMETAX ADVANCE TAX THROUGH STATEBANK ATM DEBIT CARDS.AFTER COMPLATION OF ALL PARTICULARS PAYMENT GATEWAY. SHOWS(OLTAS) SERVER ERROR 404

    HOWTO RECTIFY THESE PROBLEM. PROBLEM FROM LAST ONE MONTH & MORE THESE COMPLAINTS RECTIFIED BY INCOMETAX DEPARTMENT OR STATEBANK OF INDIA;PL.ADVISE TO CONCERNED.
    THANKING YOU SIR.

  5. RADHAKRISHNAN says:

    I had sent a long pending refund case from I.T.O.Thane to the Income tax Ombudsman at Pune office by Registered post(Address taken from the Income Tax Website).The entire document returned stating “Addressee not found”, What is this fun? What sort of office this?
    Radhakrishnan

  6. Arokiam Nadar Devasigamani says:

    I am an unemployed person Since there was some delay in submitting 15 G form in respect of my FDS with a nationalized bank they deducted Rs.14206/- When I submitted the said form they asked me to claim from IT dept by fling return. I filed the return for the assessment year 2010-2011 with the office of the income tax office IT 23 (1)(4) MUmbai on 26/07/2010. but till date I have not received the refund. When called at the toll free no about fate of the refund they say they have received any communication for refund. MY PAN N is ABAPD8786B.

  7. Bidup says:

    In actual practice, it is incorrect to say that the Ombudsmen in the Income Tax department “are independent of the jurisdiction of the income-tax department and hence, operate as an independent arbiter” and nor is that ever possible.
    The reasons are as under:
    a) Very prolonged and serious lobbying is required for landing these jobs and even for particular stations.
    b) The lobbying in all manners is done by the serving Chief Commissioners of Income Tax who must necessarily keep the Minister, the Secretary (Revenue) and the entire Board, especially the Chairman, in good humour and in no case incur their displeasure until the CCA clears the proposals of the CBDT and Rev. Deptt. and orders are released. [There are instances where many CCITs are known to have been waiting in their office rooms till early morning of the day after their superannuation to receive the fax copy of their appointment (if the post being vacated and the location of the ombudsman’s office are same) and assuming the charge of ombudsman by fax very late in the night of their retirement if the location of the latter is in a different metro.]
    c) Thus, the person who was subordinate to the entire CBDT till the date of his/her retirement can never be expected, by any stretch of imagination, to attain the level of ’emancipation’ so he/she would ever be able to feel free of the yoke of his erstwile bosses.
    d) Moreover, the ombudsman is not even independent in practice. His office is in the ITO, his staff (of a maximum of 3 persons-one PA-cum-steno, one clerk and one peon, the driver being that of the car rental agency!) is provided by the serving chief commissioner of income tax in charge of admn. who (or whose officers and staff) is not even under any obligation to the ombudsman to call on him. In fact, the miniscule few devoted, diligent, honest and sincere ombudsmen rather suffered/suffer due very much to the zeal shown in redressing public grievances to the utter dissatisfaction of the serving CCITs many of whom woild normally in the que to join the CBDT as members and likely to become chairman before the ombudsman finally says good-bye to a govt. chair (unless he manages, as in a few startling cases) to be raised to the Bench of the CAT!)
    e) This apart, ombudsman has no financial authority/autonomy even to buy an erasure and has to “apply” to the CCIT(Admn) to supply pens, pencils, paper, and the like stationary to run the office. The only satisfaction indeed is that the ombudsmen come to office to spend some time, get their personal matters taken care of and also, and chiefly, to make long-distance calls!This way they totally bye-pass any possible ignominy and embarassment, by not doing any work whatsoever and also keeping cordial relations with the serving CCAs for future use/protection.
    e) The most insulting reason is that the ombudsman and a CCIT draws the same pay and, in addition, he is required to send his monthly progress reprt to his boss, viz., the Secretary Revenue UNDER INTIMATION TO the CBDT chairman!

    It may not be out of place to note that the only purposeful and focussed ombudsman so far, a lady, became so much unpopular with the serving officers from top to bottom in CBDT and the field-because of imposition of fines on erring officers-that the ministry, CBDT and the serving CCA (along with the entire team of officers and staff on the rolls) openly started non-cooperation with the incumbent. The successor ombudsman got the post after a lot of wrangling and is thus wiser. Nobody receives any reply ever from this newly appointed ombudsman-and, even id someone dooes receive one as an exception, it is off the track and NOT on the subject and, in addition, advising him/her merely to approach the AO for redressal of the grievance.
    Everybody is happy. After all the ombudsman is here for 3 years-nobody should disturb his well.-earned rest!

  8. Jyoti says:

    The ordinary, common public alrady know about this hoax of the Ombudsmen, who do not work at all. Mostly they only write, that also after several months, to inform the aggrieved people to await the ITOs’ decision or approach the ITO. This has been the experience of even retired IT officials in their late sixties, even 70s and 80s. These superannuated officers do not have to bother for ACRs, they are mostly not in office-at times, even for weeks-and on the simplest pretext, go on “tours” to discuss with field officers! No study has been made to examine the impact and effect of these highly paid retired liabilities as a grievance redressal machinery vis-a-vis the cost to the public. It is easier to follow the age-old and time-tested, fool-proof system of paying bribes, especially when it comes to refunds or dealing with a false/bogus recvovery or demand notice. It is even possible to get refunds of more than what is legally due, only if the officers and staff are kept in “good humour” No haeassment, no waiting, no hassle-only make the payments of bribes regularly. Even in some Ombudsman offices this system has started-if the amounts are large then the cut is also very large, this is because ombudsmans are bigger than chief commisiioners as a ombudsman in Hyderabad used to say. The only working ombudsman was a lady officer who retired a year or so ago. One could meet her, explain the problem and she on her own took the efforts to see that the matter was resolve. But we learned that since she was levying penalty on officers, there was non-cooperation from ministry and minister, secretary, CBDT were too angry with her. But tax payers were very happy. So she went.

    It is true that this system of ombudsman is a waste of money.

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