New Delhi, September 7, 2017

The income tax department is accelerating the process of electronic assessments after it kicked off with cases of limited scrutiny, a move which is expected to reduce the interface between the taxpayer and the tax authorities.

It started a pilot project in some select cities and plans are on to expand across the country.

The latest push to e-assessment has been prompted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to reduce the interface between the taxpayer and the department and ensure a hassle free service.

"We are informing our officers to undertake e-assessments expeditiously and the department is being sensitised after the PM's call," said a senior official.

The tax department has undertaken limited scrutiny using technology in seven cities and has plans to expand it to at least 100 cities. Limited scrutiny cases are those where the taxpayer may not have included interest income in total income or some personal details do not match and the offence is not big enough to call for a full scale scrutiny. But tax officials said expanding it to 100 cities may take some time as it would depend on several issues such as connectivity, computer literacy of taxpayers among others.

"The bigger towns and cities will be easier to add to e-assessment. It may take some time in smaller towns," said an official, who did not wish to be named, adding that the new system will completely end the practice of summoning the tax-payers to the tax office even for small mismatches in returns. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had exhorted officers to shift to electronic interface with taxpayers to ensure complete anonymity, which will also help avoid complaints of harassment or favouritism and shut out "vested interests". In recent years, notices have also started coming via emails with replies to be posted through the same channel, dropping the earlier system where taxpayers were asked to appear before a junior officer.

[The Times of India]