Income-tax scrutiny all set to go electronic

• The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has mandated ‘e-proceeding’ for all income-tax scrutiny in 2018-19.

• It has also specified seven situations where e-proceeding will not be mandatory this year. These include search cases, cases where returns were filed in paper mode and the assessee doesn’t have e-filing account, and geographical areas with limited bandwidth.

• E-proceeding refers to the communication of data and documents between the Income-tax Departments and assesses through electronic mode, and where the assessments are done electronically.

• In 2015, the CBDT had undertaken – on a voluntary basis – a pilot project of email-based assessment in five metros. This was extended to two more in 2016.

• With the latest CBDT instruction, assesses will be required to produce their response/evidence to any notice issued by the Assessing Officer electronically, through their accounts on the e-filing portal.

• The CBDT has also listed down four situations where personal hearing/attendance may take place, despite assessment proceedings being carried out electronically.

• This move will provide a significant boost to the transparency and objective of tax assessment. It is widely perceived that the conduct of e-proceedings could significantly reduce the arbitrary approach of tax officers in framing assessments.

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