Income Tax: In a major policy decision, the Central Board of Direct Taxes has completely barred the use of any kind of paper-based communication by income tax officials to communicate with tax payers. The order that will come into effect from October this year will apply to all kind of communications related to assessment, appeals, investigation, penalty, and rectification among other things. All such documents will carry a unique computer-generated identification number (DIN) to maintain a proper paper trail, said the CBDT.
"All the assessment, appeals, orders, statutory or otherwise, exemptions, inquiry, investigation, verification of information, penalty, prosecution, rectification, approval, etc issued on or after October 1, 2019, shall carry a computer generated Document Identification Number (DIN) duly quoted in the body of such communication," said the apex body for administration of direct taxes in the country.
"It’s a good step that the department is owning up the responsibility," said former CBDT chairman Sudhir Chandra.
"Any communication which is not in conformity with the prescribed guidelines shall be treated as invalid and shall be deemed to have never been issued," CBDT clarified in a statement.
"Now you can be sure that a particular communication has indeed been issued by the department. If it doesn’t carry the unique Document Identification Number (DIN) then you can simply ignore it," Sudhir Chandra told Financial Express Online.
CBDT said almost the communication by the Income Tax department are already being generated electronically on the Income Tax Business Application (ITBA) platform to ensure transparency. However, it came to the board’s notice that some communication was still conveyed to the tax payers in the manual format without maintaining any proper audit trail.
In exceptional cases, income tax officials will still be able to use manual communication with assessees. However, the board has specified these exceptional circumstances and it will require the prior written approval of the concerned chief commissioner or director general of income tax.
Further, CBDT has also laid down the timelines and procedure by which such manual communication will have to be regularised and intimated to the Principal Director General of Income-tax (Systems).