E-ASSESSMENT SCHEME 2019

E-ASSESSMENT SCHEME 2019

CBDT has notified an ‘E-Assessment Scheme, 2019’ vide Notification no. 61/2019 & 62/2019, dated 12-09-2019 as corrected by Notification No. S.O. 3968 (E ) [NO.86/2019 (F.NO. 370149/154/2019-TPL)], DATED 1-11-2019, for the purpose of conducting e-assessments. The scheme shall be come into force with effect from September 12, 2019. Thus, any scrutiny assessment carried out on or after 12-09-2019 shall be governed by this ‘E-assessment Scheme, 2019’.

The key highlights of ‘E-Assessment’ Scheme, 2019 are enumerated below:

Assessment to be carried out through e-assessment

‘Assessment’ for the purpose of this scheme shall means assessment of total income or loss of the assessee under section 143(2) of the Income-tax Act, 1961. Thus, the following assessments shall be outside the purview of this scheme:

  1. a) Income escaping assessment (section 147)
  2. b) Best judgment assessment (section 144)
  3. c) Search assessment (section 153A)

Difference between old e-Assessment schemes and e-Assessment Scheme, 2019

For the purpose of conducting e-assessment, the Income-tax Department had developed an integrated platform, i.e., Income Tax Business Application (ITBA). This was integrated with the ‘E-filing’ portal which was used by the assessee to electronically communicate with the Income-tax Department. During the course of e-assessment, the Assessing Officer was required to send communications through the ‘Assessment Module’ of ITBA which was delivered in the ‘E-filing’ account of concerned assessee.

Now, as per the ‘E-assessment Scheme, 2019’, e-assessment shall be carried through ‘e-assessment Centres’. A ‘National e-assessment Centre’, ‘Regional e-assessment Centres’ and four units (assessment unit, verification unit, technical unit and review unit) shall be set-up by the board to facilitate the conduct of e-assessment proceedings.

It must be noted that earlier, the e-assessment was carried by the Assessing Officer but now the role of Assessing Officer shall be limited to only imposition of penalty, collection and recovery of demand, rectification of mistake, etc. and e-assessment shall be purely carried out only by the ‘e-assessment centres’.

Procedure for e-assessment

The e-assessment shall be carried out in the following manners:

1) ‘National e-assessment Centre’ shall serve a notice on the assessee under section 143(2) specifying the issues for selection of his case for e-assessment.

2) The assessee is required to file his response to the ‘National e-assessment Centre’ within 15 days from the date of receipt of such notice.

3) The National e-assessment Centre shall assign the case selected for the purposes of assessment under this Scheme to a specific assessment unit in any one Regional e-assessment Centre through an automated allocation system.

4) Where a case is assigned to the assessment unit, it may make a request to the National e-assessment Centre for—

  1. obtaining such further information, documents or evidence from the assessee or any other person, as it may specify.
  2. conducting of certain enquiry or verification by verification unit and
  3. seeking technical assistance from the technical unit.

5)  ‘National e-assessment Centre’ may issue appropriate notice to assessee for obtaining information, documents or evidence as required by the assigned assessment unit for the purpose of conducting e-assessment.

6) After taking into account all the relevant material available on the record, the assessment unit shall make a draft assessment order and a copy of such order shall be sent to National e-assessment Centre.

7) The Assessment unit shall, while making draft assessment order, provide details of the penalty proceedings to be initiated therein, if any

8) National e-assessment Centre shall examine the draft assessment order in accordance with the risk management strategy specified by the Board and it may decide to.

  1. i) Finalise the assessment as per the draft assessment order and serve a copy of such order and notice for initiating penalty proceedings, if any, to the assessee along with the demand notice or refund of any amount due to him.
  2. ii) Provide an opportunity to the assessee by serving a notice calling upon him to show cause as to why the assessment should not be completed as per the draft assessment order or

iii) Assign the draft assessment order to a review unit in any one Regional e-Assessment Centre, through an automated allocation system, for conducting review of such order.

9) In a case where no response to the show-cause notice is received, the National e-Assessment Centre shall finalize the assessment as per the draft assessment order. If a response is received by the National e-Assessment centre, the same shall be forwarded to assessment unit;

10) The Assessment Unit shall make a revised draft assessment order after taking into account the response furnished by the assessee send it to the National e-assessment Centre

11) The National e-assessment Centre shall, upon receiving the revised draft assessment order, —

  1. a) in case no modification prejudicial to the interest of the assessee is proposed with reference to the draft assessment order, finalise the assessment as per the procedure laid down or
  2. b) in case a modification prejudicial to the interest of the assessee is proposed with reference to the draft assessment order, provide an opportunity to the assessee.

9) The National e-assessment Centre shall transfer all the electronic records of the case to the jurisdictional Assessing Officer after the completion of assessment for the purpose of:

  1.   i) Imposition of penalty
  2. ii) Collection and recover of demand

iii) Rectification of mistake

  1. iv) Giving effect to appellate orders
  2. v) Submission of remand report, or any other report to be furnished, or any representation to be made, or any record to be produced before the Commissioner (Appeals), Appellate Tribunal or Courts, as the case may be
  3. vi) Proposal seeking sanction for launch of prosecution and filing of complaint before the Court

The National e-assessment Centre may at any stage of the assessment, if considered necessary, transfer the case to the Assessing Officer having jurisdiction over such case.

Personal appearance through video conferencing only

As per the e-assessment scheme, a person shall not be required to appear either personally or through authorised representative in connection with e-assessment before the income-tax authority at the National e-assessment Centre or Regional e-assessment Centre or in any unit set-up under this Scheme.

In a case where a modification is proposed in the draft assessment order and an opportunity is provided to the assessee by serving a notice calling upon him to show cause, an assessee shall be entitled to seek personal hearing so as to make his oral submissions or present his case against the draft assessment order. In such cases, hearing shall be conducted exclusively through video conferencing, including use of any telecommunication application software which supports video telephony.

The CBDT shall establish suitable facilities for video conferencing including telecommunication application software which supports video telephony at such locations as may be necessary.

Appeal against an assessment made by the National E-assessment centre

An appeal against an assessment made by the National e-assessment Centre under the Scheme shall lie before the Commissioner (Appeals) having jurisdiction over the jurisdictional Assessing Officer and any reference to the Commissioner (Appeals) in any communication from the National e-assessment Centre shall mean such jurisdictional Commissioner (Appeals).

Penalty proceedings for non-compliance of e-assessment

Any unit under this scheme may send recommendation to the National e-assessment Centre for initiation of any penalty proceedings against assessee or any other person, for non-compliance of any notice, direction or order issued to assessee or any other person.

The National e-assessment Centre shall, on receipt of such recommendation, serve a notice on the assessee or any other person, as the case may be, calling upon him to show cause as to why penalty should not be imposed on him under the relevant provisions of the Act.

Assessment unit shall make a draft order of penalty or drop the penalty proceedings, after recording the reason, by considering the response furnished by assessee against the show-cause notice issued by National e-assessment Centre on receipt of such recommendation.

Delivery of Electronic Records

All notices, orders or any other communication shall be delivered to the assessee as a real time alert, by way of:

  1. a) Placing an authenticated copy in assessee’s registered account;
  2. b) Sending an authenticated copy to registered email address of assessee or authorised representative; or
  3. c) Uploading an authenticated copy on assessee’s mobile app.

Every notice or order or any other electronic communication under this Scheme shall be delivered to the addressee, being any other person, by sending an authenticated copy thereof to the registered email address of such person, followed by a real time alert.

The Assessee shall file his response to any notice or order or any other electronic communication, under this Scheme, through his registered account, and once an acknowledgement is sent by the National e-assessment Centre containing the hash result generated upon successful submission of response, the response shall be deemed to be authenticated.

Impact of the above provisions on the assessee

None of the Assessees might have thought that a ‘registered account’ on the portal of the Income Tax Department’s website opened for the purpose of furnishing his Return of Income electronically would be used for service of scrutiny notice or order or any other communication by electronic mode by the Income Tax Department and that such service of electronic records would be complete as soon as the same is uploaded thereon. Valid dispatch of notice under section 143(2) of the Act by the assessing authority to the assessee takes place when such notice enters the ”registered e-filing account’ of the assessee outside the control of the assessing authority  and the valid receipt of the same by the assessee also occurs at the time when the notice enters the ‘registered e-filing account of the assessee.

Impact of the above provisions on any other person

The NeAC (National e-Assessment Centre) may have to communicate with persons other than the Assessee or his authorised representative or inter se between its various Centres and Units. For example, it may serve a notice u/s. 133(6) of the Income Tax Act on a person other than the assessee, calling for certain information/documents from the former.

So, such other person would have to check his emails on regular basis.

Impact of the above provisions on authorised representative of an assessee

At the time of furnishing his Return of Income electronically, an assessee is required by the Department to furnish the e-mail address of his Authorised Representative, if he has any.

Due to above reasons, in respect of all his clients, an Authorised Representative may receive electronic communications from the Department and he would have to check his email regularly so that he does not miss any such communication.

Compiled By CA Sriram V Rao

Date : 18.12.2019