By :Balwant Jain
Next to being shot at and missed, nothing is really quite as satisfying as an income tax refund: F J Raymond
No simile could be more fitting than this one-liner by F J Raymond in the quote above. The excitement of getting a tax refund is immeasurable!
On the contrary, if you have not been able to get your old Income tax refund until now the agony is understandable!
So if you are one of those who hasn't had the pleasure of receiving your income tax refund cheque, then do not fret!
As per the latest Citizen Charter issued by the Income Tax department, the Government of India promises to issue your income tax refund within a period of six months if you have filed your income tax returns electronically, otherwise the period is nine months from the date of filing of your income tax returns.
However, only a few people receive the income tax refund within the specified time frame.
To get your delayed income tax refunds, you can follow either of these two processes to ensure receipt of this 'coveted' cheque:
- Application to the Income Tax Ombudsman
- Using Right to Information (RTI) Act
In this article, I have explained how you can get your income tax refund quickly.
- 1. Application to the Income Tax Ombudsman
As a first measure you can write to Income Tax Ombudsman stating the facts about non-receipt of your income tax refund.
As per rough estimates, 95 per cent of the complaints to the Income Tax Ombudsman relate to grievances of the taxpayer for non-receipt of income tax refund or short receipt of income tax refund.
The role of Income Tax Ombudsman has turned out to be very effective in case(s) of chronic delays in issuance of income tax refunds due to loss of relevant documents in the Income tax department.
A friend recently shared this incident that is rather astonishing: His old documents were not traceable with the Income Tax department, hence concerned income tax officer volunteered to pay the amount of refund out of his pocket just to avoid any strictures by the Income Tax Ombudsman. You can follow the process explained in the next slide to claim your income tax refund:
As a first step, before you write to the Income Tax Ombudsman, write a letter to your assessing office for non-receipt of the refund with a copy to his superior, that is, to the Commissioner or Additional Commissioner of Income tax with all the details along with the copies of the relevant documents like return of income, Form 16 and 16A. In case you do not get your income tax refund within a period of 30 days, file a reminder addressed to the commissioner and then you can file a complaint to the Income Tax Ombudsman in a simple letter format giving details of your name and address. In case the return is with CPC it is important for you to first get the return transferred to the assessing officer.
In your complaint, provide details of the income tax officer against whom you are filing your complaint.
Currently the offices of the Income Tax Ombudsman are situated at 12 placed including at metro cties. The details of Income Tax Ombudsman for each area are displayed at all income tax departments at their offices. You can get [details of your jurisdictional officer] at this link:
The complaint has to be signed by you and in case an authorised representative represents your case, s/he should also sign the complaint.
Please attach copies of the letters filed with your income tax officer and his superior with your application to the Income Tax Ombudsman. The Income Tax Ombudsman will try to get the matter settled through conciliation and mediation between the Income Tax department and the person who has filed the grievance with him by passing an 'award' in accordance with the guidelines.
In most cases, the refund due is issued once the complaint received by you is forwarded to the concerned assessing officer by the office of Income Tax Ombudsman.
- 2. Using Right to Information (RTI) Act
The other equally effective method to ensure that your delayed income tax refund is promptly issued to you is to file an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
There is no prescribed format for making the application in general, however, some states have prescribed a broad format. The fee payable for this purpose generally is Rs 10 for majority of the states, which can be paid by postal order, pay order, or even in the form of court fee stamp.
The application should be submitted to the commissioner of income tax under whose jurisdiction you are assessed.
For the purpose of refund, a simple question in the form of an enquiry may be made.
For example if you have not received your income tax refund for assessment year 2008-2009, then after providing the details of income tax return filed, amount of taxable income, tax payable, amount of taxes already paid and amount of refund due, you can ask about the status of the refund payable to you in stead of asking for the reason for the delay in issuing the refund.
Let me tell you that there is no separate office for RTI. All the offices covered under RTI are required to designate a person as Public Information Officer (PIO) to receive application under the RTI Act in respect of their department. The application can be typed or handwritten. In case the application is filed with a wrong PIO, the person receiving the same has to transfer the same to the correct PIO within a period of five days.
This application will immediately trigger activity for issuance of income tax refund to you and the Commissioner under whom you are assessed will ensure that your income tax refund is issued before expiry of 30 days from the date of your application since the Commissioner of Income tax has to reply to your RTI application within 30 days.
In most cases the Commissioner of Income Tax will provide you the details of refund issued to you just prior to his responding in the matter.
Thus to ensure you get your overdue income tax refund, you can use either of the two methods discussed above and enjoy the pleasure of having been shot at and missed.
(The author is a CA, CS and CFP. He can be reached at jainbalwant at gmail.com and @jainbalwant)By Balwant Jain (CA, CS and CFP)The author is a CA, CS and CFP. Presently working as Company Secretary of Bombay Oxygen Corporation Limited. Views are personal., He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @jainbalwant