The income-tax department Monday said it will undertake expeditious disposal of appeal cases, and look into taxpayer concerns of adjustment of past tax demands with due refunds during the fortnight beginning May 16.
In a letter to field formations, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said that during May 16-31, all assessing officers would accord top priority to appeal cases and passing of rectification orders and would earmark the first half of the day to meet applicants/counsels who seek to have a hearing to explain their case.
With regard to rectification, the CBDT further said that special attention should be given to demands on account of TDS mismatch, and demands disputed by taxpayers in response to proceedings under section 245 "as these are creating widespread dissatisfaction among taxpayers".
Under section 245 of the I-T Act, the tax authorities can adjust the refund payable to the taxpayer against the past demand due from them.
"The Board has decided to dedicate the second fortnight of May, 2019, -- May 16-31 -- to expeditious disposal of appeal effect and rectification claims of the taxpayers," the CBDT said.
Nangia Advisors (Andersen Global) Managing Partner Rakesh Nangia said the move by the CBDT is also expected to result in huge amounts of pending refunds to be issued within the next one month.
"Aiming to redress taxpayer grievances, special attention has been accorded to the cases where the tax demand is on account of TDS mismatch and demands are in dispute under section 245. This shall go a long way in addressing the genuine concerns of taxpayers facing undue harassment on account of tax demand, without any fault on their part," Nangia said.
Ashok Maheshwary & Associates LLP Partner Amit Maheshwari said this CBDT directive shows the resolve and the intent of the tax department to provide a non-adversarial tax regime to the tax payers.
"Unnecessary delays in providing appeal effects and rectification lead to dissatisfaction amongst the tax payers and if the tax officers follow through with this directive, it is bound to give a much needed relief to the taxpayers," he said.
Similar grievance redressal fortnight was organised by the CBDT in May last year as well.
In July last year, in order to bring down litigation substantially, the government had hiked the threshold limit for tax departments, both the CBDT and Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) to file appeals in tribunals and courts.
Accordingly, the threshold limit for tax department to file appeals in ITAT/CESTAT was doubled to Rs 20 lakh or more, up from Rs 10 lakh. Also limit for filing appeals in the high courts was raised to where the tax amount involved in litigation is Rs 50 lakh, from Rs 20 lakh. For the Supreme Court, the threshold limit was hiked to Rs 1 crore, from Rs 25 lakh.
The government had decided to increase the threshold monetary limits for filing departmental appeals at various levels in order to reduce the long pending grievances of taxpayers, minimise litigations pertaining to tax matters and to facilitate the ease of doing business.
With the increase in threshold, 34 per cent of the total cases filed by the department in Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) has been withdrawn. The same for the high courts is 48 per cent and in case of the Supreme Court, it is 54 per cent.