The Income Tax Department has launched its faceless e-assessment scheme for taxpayers. Under the system, the physical interface between an assessee and an assessing officer will no longer be required.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during the Union Budget 2019, stated that the existing system of scrutiny assessments in the Income Tax Department involved a high level of personal interaction between the department and the taxpayers that leads to undesirable practices on the tax official’s part. The corruption was being targetted but was not discussed directly.
Moving toward faceless scrutiny
A B Pandey, the Revenue Secretary, inaugurated the NeAC or National e-Assessment Centre and said that the move was aimed at removing human interface and moving towards faceless scrutiny. Initially, 58,322 income tax cases will be taken up by the NeAC. Furthermore, cumulatively 2,860 officials of the IT Department have been assigned for the implementation of the scheme.
The program will begin with digital or virtual assessments in cases requiring verification of certain specified transactions or discrepancies. The selected cases would be allotted to assessment units for scrutiny in a random roll and notices would be issued electronically by a Central Cell, while keeping the information about the assessment officer confidential, including his/her name.
The salient features of the new scheme mentioned by the department are:
1. Ease of compliance for taxpayers
2. Transparency and efficiency
3. Functional specialization
4. Improvement in the quality of assessment
5. A risk-based and focussed approach
6. Better monitoring
7. Expeditious disposal of cases
The government has emphasized on facial recognition technology even earlier for the convenience in citizen-government interaction. PM Narendra Modi had envisioned the DiGiYatra scheme that aims to provide exclusively digital services to air travelers at every stage of their journey through facial recognition and IoT tech.