Introduction

In the new faceless assessments’ regime, the scrutiny cases will be assigned by National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC) to any particular assessment unit in any Regional e- Assessment Centre (ReAC) based on an automated random allocation system and the scrutiny notices will be issued by NeAC and the assessments will not be conducted by territorial jurisdictional AOs. It will be conducted by the IT officials comprised in NeAC and Assessment Units in ReAC, with the assistance of other units.

The Taxation & Other Laws (Relaxation & Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act, 2020, has inserted an altogether new section 144B in the Income Tax Act itself, w.e.f. 1.4.2021, and accordingly all the regular assessments u/s 143(3), will be conducted in a faceless manner from AY 2019-20 onwards.

Similarly, in the new faceless appeals’ regime implemented w.e.f. 25.9.2020, all the pending and new appeals of the taxpayers before the CIT (Appeals) will be adjudicated and disposed of by the dynamic jurisdiction and not by the jurisdictional CIT (Appeals). For the purpose of conducting faceless appeals, the National Faceless Appeal Centre and the Regional Faceless Appeal Centres and the Appeal Units comprising of one or two CIT (Appeals) are in the process of being set up.

Contents of this Article

  • Faceless Assessments & Appeals – A new era
  • Introduction
  • Impact on transparency, efficiency, and accountability
    • Transparency
    • Efficiency
    • Accountability
  • Practical considerations from Tax payer point of view

Impact on transparency, efficiency, and accountability

Transparency

Traditionally, human interactions make the element of personal biases in the conduct of the assessments. In the new era of faceless assessment, all the communications between the assesses and the income tax authorities will be through NeAC only and that too through electronic means only.

Efficiency

The new faceless assessment regime has an inbuilt feature of functional specialization and team-based assessment with the supervision of senior officials, which will definitely increase the efficiency levels in the conduct of the assessments and rule out the possibility of over-pitched assessments.

Accountability

The new faceless assessment regime will have a digital trail for each and every action of the income tax official, so as to fix proper responsibility and accountability. In the case of bonafide mistakes, the SOPs can be revised and in case of malafide mistakes, suitable disciplinary action can be taken against the defaulting official.

Practical Considerations from Tax payer point of view

Under new faceless assessment, the pre-assessment work and the post-assessment work are still done by jurisdictional AO and only the assessment function has been transferred to the faceless hierarchy.

Attachments

The maximum file size of one supporting attachment is 10mb and the maximum number of files which can be uploaded in response to one partial response is 10. Only the scanned files in pdf format are to be uploaded as attachments. The resolution of the pdf file should be kept at 300dpi.

Response period

Currently, the response window is open even after the elapse of 15 days or the stipulated time in the notices. However, soon the response window will get closed after the elapse of the prescribed time, and then the same will be opened only after the written request of the assessee for adjournment citing genuine and justifiable grounds for delay.

Update Mobile number and Email id

Tax Payer need to update correct Mobile number and e-mail id on e-filing portal as physical scrutiny notices send to assess will completely ruled out and the intimations and notices will be sent to the assesses electronically only at the registered email ids of the assesses and to the registered e-filing account of the assesses.

Video proceedings

Facilitating the Video conferencing functionalities in the e-proceedings by making VC links available in e-proceeding window of e-filing portal, but currently this facility is under processing.
The statement on oath u/s 131 will be recorded through video conferencing or video telephony only in the new faceless assessment regime and in no circumstances, the assesse will be physically called in the income-tax department for the recording of such statement.

CPC 2.0

The new platform i.e. CPC 2.0, was rolled out in November, which will result in faster ITR & Refund processing, faster resolution of the taxpayer’s grievances. Pre-filled ITRs, Mobile App, Real-Time Chat functionality with the Virtual Tax Assistant are some of the key features of the new CPC 2.0 platform.

Physical verification

In the new Faceless Assessment Scheme, 2019, the Verification Unit can conduct any inquiry or verification in modes other than the electronic modes only for those cases where ‘on the spot verification’ or physical verification of the residential or business premises of the assesse are to be done by the verification unit, and in no circumstances, the assesse will be physically called in the income-tax department by the verification unit.

Translation by Department itself

In cases of assessment/appeal submissions in vernacular languages, the translation will be done by the Revenue Authorities itself and the assesse will not be required to translate the assessment/appeal submissions.

Responses

There is no need for the taxpayers to be scared of multiple scrutiny notices u/s 143(2) or 142(1) of the same date, as the functionality is still evolving and improving and they need to reply only to one of such repeated notices, probably the last one and the taxpayers can now respond to all the Prima-facie Adjustment (PFA) Notices u/s 143(1) also, so as to avoid getting a complete scrutiny notice u/s 143 or 147.In the response window, a maximum character limit of 4000 characters is available for summarizing the e-submission.

More focused, sharper and pointed

In new faceless assessments, the tax payers and tax practitioners need to be more focused, sharper and pointed while replying to scrutiny questions to income tax department because the assessing authorities already have the complete financial information of tax payer due to the involvement of artificial intelligence. They have to ensure better acceptability of the submissions.

Auto-populated details in Form 35

Auto-populating of basic details of the appeal by entering Document Identification Number (DIN) in Appeal form 35, the taxpayers can e-file the Appeal Form 35, without there being any need to choose the jurisdictional CIT (Appeals). As the taxpayer is not must effected by new scheme as they have to file their e-responses to the scrutiny notices, in the same manner as they have been doing in the e-proceedings. The knowledge about faceless assessment and its conduct is just for the understanding of the taxpayers. But need to keep some changes in mind while responding to scrutiny notices.

Our team is there to help you in case you have doubts or need some assistance in filing and undertaking assessment proceedings.