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Very Short Notice Is Not Fair But Used As A New Tool To Harass Assessees And Tax Professionals

CA Dev Kumar Kothari has alleged that the Department is behaving in a high-handed manner by issuing statutory notices at a late stage and threatening taxpayers with penalty for non-compliance. He argues that this is not only creating harassment for the taxpayers and professionals but also reflects inefficiencies in the working of the department. He has offered suggestions on how the department can streamline its affairs and achieve its objectives in an efficient manner

Reasonable clear notice:

Reasonable time for preparation of case by taxpayer must be kept in mind while issuing any notice. While fixing time interval between date of notice and date of hearing at least the following factors must be considered by the authority issuing the notice:

a) Time taken in posting and delivery of notice. We find that in physical notices,  5-10 days are normally taken in such process due to normal procedures, holidays and off days etc. Even in case of notices by emails a time gap of more than 5 days is noticed, time gap of 3 days  is very common when there is no holiday in between.

b) Nature of proceedings and quantum of details and evidences asked for.

c) How old is matter is also relevant because furnishing of information for old matters require more time. Similarly when case is fixed for first time, and lengthy details are required more time is required.

d) Reasonable time required by notices. In case of large organisation, receiving of notice, putting the notice to concerned person, action by concerned person to assign work to team for preparation etc. take considerable time. In case of mall organisations, services of outsiders is generally availed and this require time in decision making and then preparation of matter.

e) Minimum time- at least in any proceeding minimum thirty working days should be allowed in case of first opportunity and thereafter at least ten working days should be allowed.

f) Merely because officer is sitting in a power full position should not be a reason to exert un-necessary pressure on others. He must have a sense of being a good human being and  an efficient  officer who want to work in a reasonable manner.

Short notices causes wastage of time and can lead to un-necessary proceedings:

Short notices are unfair as reasonable opportunity is denied, and is not in accordance with principal of natural justice.  Short notices causes wastage of valuable time of tax payer and tax official. This is because in such cases adjournment need to be sought and officer has to consider adjournment petition, record it and pass an order.

Sometimes notices are served after appointed days, and some authorities have habit to issue show case notice for penalty also in such situations.  Therefore, un-necessary proceedings take place.

Sometimes it is observed and experienced that even when adjournment is sought for a reasonable time, authorities allow very short time without considering complexity and volume of documents required for preparation and difficulties faced by assesse or his authorised representatives.

Cases have come to notice in which the authority is not likely and in some cases will definitely will not hear the case on the date appointed, still short notice is given. For example, while fixing cases for assessment year 2017-18 short notices are given , even though officer knows that he is busy in time barring cases, and will not hear the case for AY 2017-18.

It can be said that even in matter of allowing adjournments, highhanded approach is being adopted by tax authorities just to harass assesse and his representatives.

Recent trend:

Recently author has come to notice of such situations in many cases where notice was received after the appointed day / time for hearing.

For example, information from few notices:

Date of notice

Nature

Date of hearing

Whether requisition provided?

Time between date of notice and date of hearing days

081018 served on 121018 by email on 111018 in evening.

S.133.6 for FY 2010-11

111018 at 11AM

Yes- requiring details and documents for three years of seven year old  period

By email 4 days by post 5 days. Both served after appointed time.

200918 served on 250918

S.250/143.3

240918

 

yes

Five days. Served after appointed time and day.

080818

S.143.2

050918

No.

28

190918

S.143.2

260918

No.

7

090818

S.143.2

300818

No.

21

160818

S.143.2

300818

No.

14

110918 served on 280918 at about 5PM

First notice of hearing by ITAT

280918 at 10:30AM

NA

17 days served after time of hearing.

Similar are many other notices for example many notices of hearing of appeals from CIT(A), many from AO for other hearing on different matters like  giving appeal effect, penalty hearing   have been received by clients of author / clients of  friends in which either notice was received after the date fixed for hearing or time allowed / available  was  hardly one or two  working days.  

Un-necessary information should not be called:

Information which are already in record, and which are not at all applicable in case of notice should not be called. However, notices are issued without proper application of mind and un-necessarily information are called which assesse had to furnish again, though the same are available in records and some are not at all applicable. This also increases paper work and loss of paper which lead to increased environmental damages also.  

Warning of penalty:

In many notices for hearing warning for penalty for non- compliance on appointed day is also given even if the notice is first notice for hearing on the matter.  This also causes extensive pressure on concerned persons and the taxpayer. This can also lead to another proceeding for penalty – notice, hearing, order , appeal etc.

Un-necessary pressure on all concerned and system:

At present most of assesse concerned staff and professionals are busy in matter related to filing of Return for which last date is 31.10.18.

Even websites of Income-tax Department are heaving heavy load due to uploading of ITR and various reports.

Therefore, even if an adjournment petition is to be filed, it will cause un-necessary load on all concerned including the AO and the website.

Author see no purpose in fixing date of hearing just few days from date of notice. In some cases, even notice is not served within such short time. Even emails of department are posted after few days from the date of notice and sometimes after date of hearing. In case of email notices, also some time is to be allowed because all concerned are not still in habit of checking emails frequently and even otherwise it may not be possible to check emails in all email addresses.

If at all one find purpose in such short period allowed is TO HARASS ASSESSEE AND TAX PROFESSIONALS.

Other practical aspect:

If assessee physically file documents it is likely that when hearing will be started during January 2019 or thereafter, the AO may not find documents in his records or difficult to trace and assesse will need to file again.

Request for allowing reasonable time:

While issuing notice u/s 143.3 for initiation of scrutiny assessment, long time should be allowed – when hearings are likely to take place. Therefore, for AY 2017-18 vide notice u.s. 143.2 date of hearing can be fixed after February 2019. This will help all concerned.

Department can also ensure that before the date of hearing is fixed vide notice u/s 143.2 another procedural notices (e.g. u.s. 142) calling for information and documents can be issued and date of hearing can be fixed on the same date as fixed vide notice u/s 143.2.  

This will reduce unnecessary paper work, unnecessary submissions of documents online or physically.
 

Disclaimer: The contents of this document are solely for informational purpose. It does not constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation. While due care has been taken in preparing this document, the existence of mistakes and omissions herein is not ruled out. Neither the author nor itatonline.org and its affiliates accepts any liabilities for any loss or damage of any kind arising out of any inaccurate or incomplete information in this document nor for any actions taken in reliance thereon. No part of this document should be distributed or copied (except for personal, non-commercial use) without express written permission of itatonline.org
8 comments on “Very Short Notice Is Not Fair But Used As A New Tool To Harass Assessees And Tax Professionals
  1. SURENDRA MEHTA, ADVOCATE, JODHPUR says:

    “Reasonable Opportunity” is considered as part of “Natural Justice” and author has nicely explained in respect of Tax jurisprudence.

  2. Rajendra says:

    Very good analysis, the, CA federation association should take up the cause

  3. Y R Desai says:

    We need to insist for passing speaking order strictly within the same time as was granted by the officer in his letter / notice to the assessee to reply his notice.

  4. rajesh popli says:

    I have received a notice of client to attend at 22.10.2018 at 5.26pm (after office working hours) Wah Re India Kaise Kaise log Bharti ho rahe h

  5. S Madhu says:

    Apart from above kind of harassment, see this.
    My IT clerk sent me a notice for reopening of AY 13-14. I went straight to ACIT and requested for reasons. He was good enough, he said this notice is not issued. He called the clerk and asked him. The clerk said “I issued this notice by mistake” , he took the notice and tore it !!!
    Does it mean that the clerk thought I will meet him and request for cancelling reopening ? But for the good ACIT, I wud have lost some money.

  6. Manish Parekh says:

    Very True. We have been receiving such notice in lot for our clients. To top it, they sitting pretty on the matter from previous year when the case has been selected fro scrutiny till September of the next year and then suddenly out of the blue waking up & bombarding people with SHORT notices which also includes WARNING.
    Enough of this misuse of authority. Time to make them accountable for delay from their end by suitable amendment in the law

  7. malay chaturvedi says:

    There should be some minimum statutory period to provide adequate opportunity for compliance.

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