The CBDT has notified the format and procedure for the taxman and taxpayers to usher in an ambitious pilot project of using emails as the new mode of communication between the two sides, as part of the government’s bid to reduce grievances of the tax-paying public.
An official notification has been issued which spells out the procedure, formats and standards for ensuring “secured transmission” of emails between the Assessing Officer (AO) of the IT department and the assessee stating all communication between the two sides will be done through PDF file format and over bonafide email ids.
The new notification is a follow up of an amendment made by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in the Income Tax Act in December last year, which allowed emails to become the new mode of interaction tool between the AO and the tax-paying individual.
Under the new procedures, the taxman will send emails, for issuing notices and summons, through the government registered ‘@incometax.gov.in’ email domain and the attached PDF document will have his or her designation and signature. In response to such an IT notice, a taxpayer will have to use his registered email id with the department to submit the details called for, in a PDF format.
“In case the total size of the attachments exceed 10 MB then the assessee shall split the attachment and send in as many emails as may be required to adhere to the limit of attachment size of 10 MB per email”. “any email, in response to the notice issued by the AO, received from the primary email address of the assessee shall be considered as a valid response to the notice”.
The CBDT, in the same notification, has also mandated that the taxman will maintain an audit trail of all this e-communication with a taxpayer in the central database of the IT department for future reference and as a record management of the entire transaction.
The new directives also allow a taxpayer to physically submit the reply of such e-notices in case there is a technical problem in their email like a situation of email failure or a full mailbox. “This shall be treated as adequate compliance,”
These procedures are “applicable to the assessment proceedings in respect of select non-corporate assessees as part of the pilot project on paperless assessment proceedings and can be extended to other assessees or other proceedings as may be notified by the board subsequently.”
The department to reduce the taxpayers’ visit to the IT office had launched the ‘pilot’ project in this regard late last year and the first set of e-communications were decided to be mailed to 100 chosen people each in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Chennai regions. This was done after the CBDT had asked the department to “initiate the concept of using email for corresponding with taxpayers and sending through emails the questionnaire, notice etc at the time of scrutiny proceedings and getting responses from them”.
“This would eliminate the necessity of visiting the Income Tax offices by the taxpayers, particularly in smaller cases, involving limited issues and where taxpayer is able to provide details required by the Assessing Officer (AO) without necessitating his physical presence,”