Government to launch a mobile phone app for taxpayers to access income tax services

The Central Board of Direct Taxes introduced a new Form 26AS in July this year to handhold taxpayers in filing their correct income tax returns
Representational photo.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational photo.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Oct 29, 2020 05:30 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRajeev Jayaswal

The income tax department may soon have a mechanism in place that will allow taxpayers to rectify their auto-generated financial statement through the e-filing portal itself. The department also plans to launch a mobile phone application for all tax-related services such as details of tax credit, outstanding demands, tax payments, e-verification of returns and status of refunds, two officials said.

The income tax (I-T) department -- which possesses details of key financial transactions undertaken by individuals, corporate or trusts -- has already started sharing the data with the taxpayers so that they file their annual tax return correctly. The suggestion that they should be allowed to amend this data in case of any discrepancy is under consideration, the officials said, requesting anonymity.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) introduced a new Form 26AS in July this year to handhold taxpayers in filing their correct income tax returns (ITRs). The new form now shows data related to cash deposits and withdrawals, sale and purchase of immovable properties, time deposits, credit card payments, purchase of shares, debentures and foreign currency, investments in mutual funds, buy back of shares, and cash payment for goods and services. Taxpayers can access this form through the e-filing portal.

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Speaking at a book launch, CBDT chairman PC Mody said the faceless assessment is going to mark a paradigm shift in the tax administration and providing individual taxpayers to access his or her financial information through e-filing portal will be a step towards ease of compliance. “The idea is that taxpayers should be aware that they have made these transactions,” he said.

A taxpayer may like to amend or suggest some changes in the displayed information. “That functionality is currently under preparation... We are trying to do it in the shortest possible time... Shortly you will have this facility on the portal itself,” Mody said. He was speaking at the launch of a book, FAQs and Surveys on Faceless Assessment, published by Taxmann and All India Federation of Tax Practitioners (AIFTP) last Friday.

The faceless tax assessment system was first proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 and received a mention in the first budget of finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on July 5, 2019. The system was subsequently launched on October 7, 2019. The system enables a random selection of tax cases through artificial Intelligence and machine learning, with reduced discretion from for little or no human interface with the income tax department. Its objective is to completely eliminate physical contact between the taxpayer and the official to make tax administration objective, transparent and corruption-free.

Mody asked taxpayers with permanent account numbers (PAN) to register on the income tax e-filing portal to avail ease of compliance related to taxation matters. “Through the federation I would appeal all taxpayers, particularly all PAN-holders, please register yourself on the e-filing portal. That is the first and foremost thing a PAN-holder needs to do because our communication is digital and more and more information will keep flowing, and everything will be visible on the portal. So register on the e-filing portal,” he said.

He said it is important for taxpayers to register themselves on the portal by giving their correct email ID and mobile number. “Because what we are also contemplating, and that is also going on simultaneously, is the launch of an app, where we can provide this [tax-related] information on the mobile phone of the taxpayer and a lot of communication could happen through a mobile phone itself,” he said.

He also asked taxpayers and their tax consultants to regularly check their emails. “It is your duty to serve your own interest, please check your email regularly and please respond to the queries raised. I would say, don’t just keep silent, respond to them... We are making all efforts that we raise very, very pointed and specific queries and we expect pointed and specific answers of those queries,” he said.

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