The Income Tax Department today launched Faceless Income Tax Appeals. Under Faceless Appeals, all Income Tax appeals will be finalised in a faceless manner under the faceless ecosystem with the exception of appeals relating to serious frauds, major tax evasion, sensitive & search matters, International tax and Black Money Act. Necessary Gazette notification has also been issued today.
It may be noted that Hon’ble PM on 13thAugust, 2020 while launching the Faceless Assessment and Taxpayers’ Charter as part of “Transparent Taxation – Honoring the Honest” platform, had announced launching of Faceless Appeals on 25th September, 2020 on the birth anniversary of Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhayay. Also, in recent years the Income Tax Department has carried out several reforms in Direct Taxes for the simplification of tax processes and for ease of compliance for the taxpayers.
Under the Faceless Appeals, from now on, in income tax appeals, everything from e-allocation of appeal, e-communication of notice/ questionnaire, e-verification/e-enquiry to e-hearing and finally e-communication of the appellate order, the entire process of appeals will be online, dispensing with the need for any physical interface between the appellant and the Department. There will be no physical interface between the taxpayers or their counsel/s and the Income Tax Department. The taxpayers can make submissions from the comfort of their home and save their time and resources.
The Faceless Appeals system will include allocation of cases through Data Analytics and AI under the dynamic jurisdiction with central issuance of notices which would be having Document Identification Number (DIN). As part of dynamic jurisdiction, the draft appellate order will be prepared in one city and will be reviewed in some other city resulting in an objective, fair and just order. The Faceless Appeal will provide not only great convenience to the taxpayers but will also ensure just and fair appeal orders and minimise any further litigation. The new system will also be instrumental in imparting greater efficiency, transparency and accountability in the functioning of the Income Tax Department.
As per data with CBDT, as on date there is a pendency of almost 4.6 lakh appeals at the level of the Commissioner (Appeals) in the Department. Out of this, about 4.05 lakh appeals, i.e., about 88 % of the total appeals will be handled under the Faceless Appeal mechanism and almost 85% of the present strength of Commissioners (Appeals) shall be utilised for disposing off the cases under the Faceless Appeal mechanism.
Circular no. 40/2020 dated 4th September, 2020 by CBIC regarding faceless assessment at the customs ports.
The key elements of the Turant Customs programme are Faceless, Contactless and Paperless Customs clearance processes. This includes faceless or anonymised assessment, self-registration of goods by importers, automated clearances of bills of entry, digitisation of Customs documents, etc. The objectives sought to be achieved are exponentially faster
clearance of goods, reduced interface between trade and Customs officers and enhanced ease of doing business. The phased launch of the Turant Customs programme in select ports of import was aimed at testing in a real-life environment, the IT capabilities as well as the responsiveness of the trade and Customs officers to the various initiatives. The results have
been reviewed and these have confirmed that the stated objectives are being met. The stage is now set for extending the Turant Customs programme across all Customs ports pan India and thereby ushering in a more modern, efficient, and professional Customs administration with
resultant benefits for trade and industry.
Board has decided to roll-out the Faceless Assessment at an All India level in all ports of import and for all imported goods by 31.10.2020
Details of the rollout are given in this circular
A National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC) and a network of Regional e-Assessment Centres will be set up to implement the Faceless Assessment Scheme of the Income Tax Department, launched nation-wide by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 13th August, 2020. The regional assessment network would comprise assessment units, verification units, technical units and review units. The system allows for dynamic jurisdiction, team-based working, and functional specialization and does away with human interface altogether. This was informed by the Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Mumbai, Shri Patanjali Jha, during a webinar on “Faceless Assessment Scheme and Virtual Court Hearings”, conducted by KPMG India.
Making a comparison between the faceless assessment system and the current system it replaces, the Principal Chief Commissioner explained how the new system is one designed for the 21st century. There is no discretion in selection of assessment cases, while earlier, case selection used to happen manually. In place of single territorial jurisdiction, we now have automated random allocation of cases. While notices used to be issued both manually and on the system, issue of notices will now be done through a central mechanism (by NeAC) in electronic mode. There shall be no physical meetings between taxpayers and officers. Wide discretion and subjective assessment are being replaced by team-based assessment and a system wherein draft order is issued in one city, review is done in another city and finalization is done in yet another city. This thereby leads to an objective, fair and just assessment order, said the Principal Chief Commissioner.
Faceless Assessment Scheme was rolled out in the Income Tax Department as a pilot project in September, 2019. Initially, a limited number of cases were picked up for faceless assessment which was being done at eight centres in the country.