As per the provision prior to Finance (No. 2) Act, 2014 contained in section 142A, the Assessing Officer may, for the purpose of making an assessment or reassessment require the Valuation Officer to make an estimate of the value of any investment, any bullion, jewellery or fair market value of any property. On receipt of the report of the Valuation Officer, the Assessing Officer may after giving the assessee an opportunity of being heard take into account such report for the purpose of assessment or re-assessment.
Section 142A did not envisage rejection of books of account as a pre- condition for reference to the Valuation Officer for estimation of the value of any investment or property. Further, section 142A does not provide for any time limit for furnishing of the report by the Valuation Officer.
As per the amended section 142A vide Finance (No. 2) Act, 2014, the Assessing Officer may, for the purpose of assessment or reassessment, refer any asset, property or investment to a Valuation Officer, necessary for estimating its value. The Assessing Officer is not required to record any satisfaction about the correctness or completeness of the accounts of the assessee. Further, the report of the Valuation Officer may be accepted after giving the assessee opportunity of being heard.
Probable hardships after amendment by Finance (No. 2) Act, 2014
(a) As per the earlier section 142A, the Assessing Officer may refer to valuation for the purpose of estimating the value of any investment referred to in section 69 or 69A or 69B or 56(2). The law, as far as the trigger for valuation is concerned, was settled and permitted. The Assessing Officer was to resort to valuation only after he was satisfied that the books of account were not correct or were incomplete. Henceforth, as per the amendment made, the Assessing Officer need not record any reason for making a reference. In fact, as is the experience, the Assessing Officer may even fear an audit inquiry or objection if they do not refer cases for valuation.
(b) The amended section may open flood gates to valuation in each and every case resulting in unnecessary litigation and inappropriate use of valuable resources of the Department.
(c) The Valuation Officer will become yet another authority who will sit over judgements on what should be the value of any property. As per the discretion available with him for valuation, it may also result in abuse.
(d) The power and scope of reference to a Valuation Officer has been extended to any asset, property or investment, thus giving vast powers in the hands of the assessing authority without any check.
Keeping in view the settled law on the subject, the legislature must specifically provide that satisfaction may be recorded before making any reference to the Valuation Officer.
Alternately, sanction of a higher authority must be taken before any reference is made by the Assessing Officer