Basic features :-
All such cases shall be selected through system using data analytics and artificial intelligence. It will have dynamic jurisdiction with automated random allocation of cases. In other words, the jurisdiction over such cases shall not vest with one particular officer but keep on changing as per the phase wise requirement of the assessment proceedings. The cases would be randomly allocated all over the country to different assessing officers. Under the scheme, a particular assessment would be completed by 4 different units viz. assessment unit, technical unit, verification unit and review unit. The assessment unit would identify issues, seek information and analyse material to frame draft assessment orders, the verification unit will conduct inquiry, examine books of account, examine witnesses and record statements through video conferencing, the technical unit will provide advice on legal, accounting, forensic, information technology, valuation, transfer pricing and data analytics issues and the review unit will review the draft assessment order prepared by the assessment unit i.e. whether material evidence is brought on record, points of facts and law are incorporated, application of judicial decisions is considered as well as the arithmetic correctness of the computation part of the assessment order.
The NeAC would assign cases to the assessment units, verification units and technical units through an automatic allocation system. It would then select draft assessment orders for review and allocate it to the review unit through an automated allocation system. NeAC would also provide an opportunity to the taxpayer concerned before finalising the order. After finalising the assessment order, all electronic records would be transferred to the jurisdictional AO for post assessment work such as recovery of demand and levy of penalty etc.
After the automated selection of cases, the notices for selection of cases shall be issued electronically by a central cell without disclosing the identity of the AO. The replies thereof shall also be required to be given in digital mode i.e. either by email or through e-filing website. No physical interface shall be entertained with the taxpayer and he/she is not required to visit income tax office in person. All such assessments shall be team-based assessments as stated above. Or in other words, the draft assessment may be in one city, the review thereof may be in another city and the finalisation thereof may be in third city.
It has many advantages or benefits to the taxpayers as well as to the income tax department. The taxpayer can submit his/her reply while sitting at home or office thereby avoiding multiple visits to the tax office. There would be no wastage of time in waiting for the tax officer. Further, there would be uniformity of approach and equal application of law with no high pitched assessments. Assessments would be finalised in a very short time in an objective, fair and just manner.
The pilot project undertaken by the department proved to be highly successful. In total 58319 cases were selected in 8 cities i.e. Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi wherein till date 8701 cases have been completed without making any additions and only in 296 cases additions have been proposed which are presently under review.
Hon’ble Prime Minister, during Gyan Sangam-2017, desired that tax administration needed a face change. Accordingly, the Hon’ble Finance Minister in his 2019 budget speech on 05.07.2019 announced the scheme of Faceless Assessment which was accordingly notified by CBDT on 12.09.2019 and a pilot project thereof was started on 07.10.2019. The main objective thereof is to impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability. It is also intended to eliminate physical interface between the taxpayer and the tax officers.