As per the latest Citizen Charter issued by the Income Tax department the income tax department promises to carry out certain activity on their part within the time specified under the charter given at the below link:
However in only few of the cases the activities are carried out in the time limit prescribed and thus giving rise to grievance against the income tax department. Major grievances relate to issue of income tax returns and pending rectification application.
To get your income tax grievances properly addressed, you can follow either or both of the following processes to ensure prompt response.
- A: Application to the Income Tax Ombudsman
- B Using Right to Information (RTI) Act
- A Application to the Income Tax Ombudsman
As a first measure you can write to Income Tax Ombudsman stating the facts of your grievance. 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 dealing with the grievance of the taxpayer including 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!
As a first step, before you write to the Income Tax Ombudsman, write a letter to your assessing officer for non response to your grievance 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 etc. In case the grievance is against the Central Processing Centre (CPC) Banglore, it is better to get the return for the relevant year transferred to the assessing officer first and then follow the process explained above.
In case you do not get any response within a period of 30 days, it is advisable to file a reminder addressed to his superior and then you can file a complaint to the Income Tax Ombudsman in a simple letter format giving details of your name and address. Please provide details of the income tax officer against whom you are filing your complaint.
Currently the offices of the Income Tax Ombudsman are situated in 12 places including at matero cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata. You can get the details of your jurisdictional income tax ombudsman from the following link:
The complaint has to be properly signed by you and in case you are represented by an authorised representative, s/he should also sign the complaint. You need to attach the copies of the letters filed with your income tax offices and his superior with your application. 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 of the refund cases, the refund due is issued once the complaint received from you is forwarded to the concerned assessing officer by the office of Income Tax Ombudsman.
- B. Using Right to Information (RTI) Act
The other equally effective method to ensure that your grievance is properly attended to, you can file an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. For making an RTI application no format has been prescribed. However, some states have prescribed a broad format. The fee payable for the RTI application generally is Rs 10 in most of the states which can be paid either by postal order, or pay order or even in the form of court fee stamp.
The RTI application needs to be submitted to the jurisdictional income tax commissioner. The way you draft your RTI application is very important. In stead of asking as to why a particular matter has not been resolved, you should ask about the status of the particular application or request made by you. For the purpose of refund, a simple question in the form of an enquiry may be made about the status of the refund.
For example if you have not received your income tax refund for assessment year 2015-2016 you need to provide the details of income tax return filed, amount of taxable income, tax payable, amount of taxes already paid and amount of refund due. As an enquiry you can ask about the status of the refund payable to you in stead of asking for the reason for delay of issuance of the refund.
Please note that there is no separate office for RTI in income tax department. All the income tax offices are required to designate a person as Public Information Officer (PIO) to receive application under the RTI Act in respect of their department. In case the application is filed with a wrong PIO, the person receiving the same is required to transfer the same to the correct PIO within a period of five days under the RTI laws.
This application will immediately trigger activity for redressal of your income tax grievance including issuance of income tax refund to you and the Commissioner under whom you are assessed will ensure that your grievance is resolved within 30 days as the Commissioner of Income tax has to reply to your RTI application within 30 days.
Thus to ensure you get old grievance addressed you can use either of the two methods discussed above.
(The author is a CA, CS and CFP. He can be reached at jainbalwant at gmail.com and @jainbalwant)