What are National e-Assessment Centres for taxpayers? By Priyanka - November 21, 2019 Last Updated at: Dec 14, 2019 0 1758 What are National e-Assessment Centres for taxpayers? National E-assessment Centres: From Physical To Digital Introduction With the world transforming and marching towards the digital era, the ways earlier legal proceedings were carried out and completed also need to be changed. And so, keeping in mind the need to change the ways from physical to digital, in order to make the legal proceedings more systematic and integrated, the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced and inaugurated the National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC) in New Delhi as an initiative towards the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Digital India’. In the Union Budget of 2019, the faceless e-assessment scheme so proposed aims at eliminating the need for human interaction between the taxpayer and the Income Tax Department, making all the assessments and filling in the taxes electronically. E-assessment structure A ‘National e-Assessment Centre’ has been set-up in order to impart transparency, accountability and greater efficiency in the assessment process, thereby controlling the working of assessment smoothly. It is located in Delhi. Under the National e-Assessment Centres, eight regional e-assessment centres have been set up which governs further assessments. As a first phase, the IT department has selected 58, 322 cases for scrutiny. Under this faceless assessment, the taxpayer will receive notices to their registered mobile number and email address with real-time alert by way of SMS. The notice contains the issues for which their cases have been selected for scrutiny. Under the national and regional e-assessments centres, four other centres have been set up for the smooth functioning of the tax filing and other legal processes: ○ Assessment Unit: These units are set up to analyze the information along with finding and clearing various issues. ○ Verification Unit: These are set up to verify the information provided by the taxpayers along with keeping up with the records and other inquiries. ○ Technical Unit: These are set up to provide technical assistance on several bases, including legal, IT, data management and statistics and solving other technical errors. ○ Review Unit: These are set up to review and find out whether all the information, facts and evidence provided are relevant and are judicially correct or not. Ask a Free Legal advice E-assessment procedure The procedure for e-assessment is as follows: A notice regarding the issue of the taxpayer will be made under Section 143(2) and the further process will be carried out under the National e-assessment Centre. After the response has been filed with the National e-assessment Centre, the taxpayer has a time period of 15 days. After the assignment of the case to any of the assignment units, a request may be made to the National e-assessment Centre for the following information: ○ Obtaining information regarding the documents of the taxpayer. ○ Certain verification procedures can be carried out by the Verification units. ○ Technical assistance can be taken from the technical unit. After all the above-mentioned requests and information are obtained, the assessment unit passes a draft assessment order which will be in regard to accepting the order of income of the taxpayer or the modifications regarding the same. These proceedings are further carried out by the National e-assessment Centres, who further examine and check the drafts sent in accordance with the risk management strategies so provided by the CBDT. After all the proceedings and assessments of the drafts are completed, the records are transferred electronically to the Assessing Officer for the final execution of the case. Penalty procedure In the case of non-compliance with any notice or assessment proceedings, a notice is served and sent to the taxpayers or any other person by the National e-assessment Centre, giving them a chance to show why penalty must not be imposed on them. If the person is unable to showcase the reasons, then a final notice is drafted and sent imposing the penalty, or else the penalty is dropped. Electronic and Communication record All the communications and exchange of records between the authorities and taxpayers are made electronically. All the communications between the various units will also be made by electronic means only. The taxpayer will upload their digital signatures as well as other documents only through authenticated and registered accounts. Appearance and meeting of the taxpayers before the units In case the taxpayer does not follow up with the rules set up under this scheme, he is not supposed to be present and meet the assessing units personally. He will be given a chance to modify the documents and make submissions. In case, if this is also not carried out, the units may contact the taxpayers telephonically. Specifications of the process and procedure The principal chief commissioner or the principal director-general of the National e-Assessment Centre will be responsible for making all the standards, specifications and procedures for the effective and smooth functioning of these National and regional e-assessment units which are set up under the scheme. Benefits of Faceless Centres: Eliminates human interface between Assessing Officer and Assessee Optimisation of resources Ease of compliance for taxpayers Enhances efficiency and transparency in the assessment process Enhances the quality of assessment and monitoring Cases can be solved quickly Quality management and standardisation Conclusion As such, the National e-assessment Scheme is sure to serve a number of benefits including the increase in transparency and efficiency of the system, leading to an increase in the quality of the assessment by a focussed and systematic approach. Not just this, it also provides the benefit of better and improved ways of monitoring the legal proceedings that are carried out, along with bringing in ease of compliance for the taxpayers as well as the units which are set up.