Field offices asked to issue it instantly

Staff Correspondent | Published at 11:03pm on September 22, 2020

The National Board of Revenue has asked its field-level offices to provide tax acknowledgement receipts to the taxpayers instantly after receiving income tax returns to ease tax payment process and prevent probable harassment.

In a recent letter to its 31 commissioners of 31 income tax zones across the country, income tax wing of the revenue board gave a set of instructions to make the income tax returns submission process easier in the current fiscal year 2020-2021.

The income tax returns submission season for FY21 started on July 1, 2020 and will continue till November 30.

The NBR also instructed the commissioners to make all taxpayers service centres effective for providing necessary services and information related to submission of income tax returns to the taxpayers.

Taxpayers should be provided with all types of cooperation in filing returns, it said.

Officials said that it would be very important for them to ensure taxpayer-friendly environment in the field-level income tax offices as the annual income tax fair would not take place this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

All taxpayers have to visit tax offices to file their tax returns and taxpayers usually file their tax returns in the last month of the timeframe — November, they said.

In the budget for FY21, the government has made submission of tax returns mandatory for all TIN holders, excluding few exceptions.

The number of TIN holders exceeded 50 lakh in June, 2020 in the country.

Though in last fiscal year (FY20), some 22 lakh taxpayers submitted their tax returns, the number may double this fiscal year due to the mandatory provision of returns filing.

The NBR has 659 income tax circles where taxpayers file their returns.

In previous years on average 30 per cent of total taxpayers submitted their tax returns at the tax fair venues across the country, taking the benefits of hassle-free and convenient atmosphere.

In FY20, more than 6.55 lakh of total 22 lakh returns were filed at the fair venues.

At the fair venues, tax officials issued the tax acknowledgment receipts immediately after receiving the tax returns.

But, there are allegations of harassment and bribery against tax officials in the process of filing tax returns and getting tax services, including obtaining tax acknowledgement receipts, at tax offices.

Tax officials in most cases do not issue the receipts on the day of receiving tax returns and taxpayers are requested to visit the office later to collect the receipts, a number of taxpayers alleged.

Taxpayers are often to give bribes for receiving the receipts instantly, they alleged.

In the eight-point instructions, tax offices were asked to ensure availability of required income tax returns form and challan form with adequate manpower at the service centres.

There should be facilities for issuing electronic taxpayer identification number at the centres.

Field offices should also update their web sites with names and addresses of circle offices, officials, telephone numbers, various types of forms, guidelines on filling in returns, income tax paripatra and video tutorials for returns filing.

Tax offices will also have to inform the taxpayers about the mandatory returns submission through sending SMS, e-mail and using other means of communications, including media advertisements, according to the instructions.