The government launched the faceless e-assessment scheme that eliminates physical interaction between an assessing officer and the taxpayer while inaugurating the National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC) in New Delhi on 7th Oct 2019.
While inaugurating the NeAC, the Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that the move is aimed at moving to faceless scrutiny and elimination of human interface. He added that “Anyone whose case is selected for scrutiny will be able to file all the documents online. Now, the officer who is going to assess the case will also be selected randomly.”
The government expects to increase ease of compliance for taxpayers as the cost and anxiety of taxpayers are likely to be greatly reduced with this new initiative. The IT department has selected 58322 returns (across all categories of taxpayers - from salaried taxpayers to corporate) for e-assessment in the first phase.
Bulk of the returns selected for e-assessment belong to the category of individuals and Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) who have income from profits and gains from business or profession. Krishna Mohan Prasad, Head of the National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC) shared that around 25000 or so of the 58322 cases (42%) selected belong to those who filed ITR3 forms.
Mr Pandey mentioned that the cases selected for scrutiny are based on certain criteria, including cases where there are serious discrepancies.
All communication between the National e-assessment Centre and the assessee will be exclusively by electronic mode. The internal communication within the department will also be online. The IT department has deputed 2686 officials for implementation of the scheme.
Earlier in July 2019, the FM Smt Nirmala Sitharaman had announced this faceless e-assessment scheme (eliminating human interface) during her budget speech. She had admitted that the existing system of scrutiny assessments in the IT department involved a high-level of personal interaction between the taxpayer and the department, which led to “certain undesirable practices on the part of tax officials”.