A Tax scrutiny in 2011
Tax department representations is a combination of patience, tact, and intellegence. There are many a times, patience wins over all other parameters, because the process itself is fraught with many lapses.
I still remember a day, where I had to complete 2 assessments, and had to wait in the clean and sophistacted lobby at the Tax office. The Assessing officer was courteous, but he had so much on his plate.
My laptop battery died, my mobile battery died, and I was exhausted, but the hearing didn’t start. My appointments for the day had to be rescheduled, and it was so annoying.
That apart, in many instances, I had to take the Director of a company, and he had to undergo this ordeal. For a professional it is a part of life, but for a corporate it could be quite difficult position but he has to be diplomatic and understand. The Tax officers generally have so many things to handle, the reports, the scrutiny, the orders, the litigations, the reporting, the pressure and the list is endless, yet waiting in the lobby for 4 hours can be frustrating.
A Tax scrutiny today
As a Initiative, now, we are progressing from “Manual” to E-Assessment meaning “Man to Tech”.
As I sat in my desk, I got an email of the scrutiny assessment. It was so professionally documented and worded and it was vivid.
I didn’t have to go through the traffic snarls, the waiting period, the pressure of cancelling appointments, running down batteries. I can just reply through my mail, sitting at the comfort of my desk, and a schedule I can fix for myself
As part of Government’s initiative towards E-Governance, Income Tax Department has started to use digital platform for conducting the scrutiny assessments in a widespread manner. Income tax department has made communication between tax payer and department simple and easy. Initially this scheme has been introduced in seven cities Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai
Can this scheme move to other parts of the country
The scheme is environmentally friendly, and it is going towards a paperless environment. It suits our organisation so much, as we are a paperless office too. There is a clear audit trail in the form of a mail tail.
I also stand the advantage of retaining the discretion to opt for the e-scrutiny and appear before the officer. It is such a classic example of Digital India, where the Assessing officer fixes the Digital signature and in a few cases I have not even met the official. This leads to such a transparent system
The question remains – Should I still go to the department?
I still would need to carry the original documents for verification, or when the Assessing officer would require the presence under section 131, where witnessing process would be required.
I would still need to go to the tax authorities, when there is a show-cause notice.
Yet the visits are far and between, and we are loving this mode of transparency, easy, and controlled environment.
Having stated that, if there is an automated tool, where the process can be established, that would add to the fact that “we are digital India”, we are far more advanced that an e-mail. The day all this would be an ERP system, a video conference call embedeed in this effort, and we could have a coffee at our desk as the AO sips his tea. The department visit could become a history soon.