I-T officers cannot issue uncounted notices

NEW DELHI: The government has taken steps to repress those not accounted for notices and orders issued by income tax officials, often to pressure taxpayers.

From October 1, all orders, notices and summons will have to be generated via the Income Tax Business Application Platform with a unique document identification number, a circular issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes said on Wednesday, after the PM’s Stern message that honest taxpayers should not be harassed.

Even now, notices and orders have to be generated electronically but the rule is not being adhered to. “Any notice or order that does not carry a computer-generated DIN will not be valid,” said an official.

Taxpayers can verify the messages through THAT portal

The directive will cover tax assessments, appeals, consultations, investigations, orders, subpoenas, exemptions, verification, penalties, prosecution and rectification.

Even orders and notices issued before the deadline will need to be validated and a DIN will have to be obtained by October 31.

The two-page circular says in exceptional circumstances, such as during searches or when PAN has not been issued or a communication link is not available, manual communication can be issued but only after it has been approved by an officer who is of the rank of chief commissioner. But even the manual communication will have to be uploaded online within 15 days.

And information regarding such orders will have to be communicated within seven days. Officials said the new system will also help taxpayers verify the communication via the income tax portal and officers can be tracked and the kind of notices they have issued can be analysed. In recent months, several instances have come to light where officers are suspected to have backdated orders.

For example, the IWC has accused the fired tax officer S K Srivastava of issuing orders after the government mandatorily withdrew him. Similarly, in at least two cases involving bribery allegations, officers are accused of issuing outdated orders after being caught accepting bribes.

The movement Optimizing the operation of the department comes at a time when some industry representatives accuse the government of fiscal terrorism. In recent years, the government has increased the technology-driven tax assessment and is switching to a faceless system to reduce potential harassment.