Abolition of Institution of Income Tax and Indirect Tax Ombudsman
21st Feb, 2019
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for Abolition of Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman and Indirect Tax Ombudsman.
An ombudsman is a quasi-judicial body established to address the grievances of customers.
What are the reasons for abolition?
- According to government, the number of new complaints had fallen to single digits, implying that fewer aggrieved taxpayers were approaching these agencies.
- The tax payers started preferring alternate methods of grievance redressal like CPGRAMS (Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System), Aaykar Seva Kendras etc.
- The institution of Ombudsman could not prove to be more effective than regular existing parallel channels of grievance redressal.
Income Tax Ombudsman
- It was created in 2003 to deal with grievances of public related to settlement of complaints relating to Income Tax.
- It could settle these complaints either through agreements or by passing an award. An award was legally binding on the income tax department, provided it was accepted by the complainant.
- If the complainant rejected the award, (s)he could approach a court of law.
What did Ombudsman do?
- As a quasi-judicial body, the ombudsman had the power to ask the income tax authority to provide information or furnish certified copies of any document relating to the complaint.
- The ombudsman had the power to adjudicate on a wide range of complaints such as those pertaining to refunds, non-acknowledgement of letters or documents, delay in allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN) and non-credit of tax paid, including tax deducted at source.
- Taxpayers could only lodge a complaint with the ombudsman after they had first approached the authority superior to the one they were complaining against.
Alternatives Redressal Mechanisms
E-Nirvana: Taxpayers can now get tax related and PAN related grievances redressed online using the 'E-Nivaran' facility launched by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
E-Nivaran offers a paperless mode of lodging one’s complaint, uploading necessary documents, getting the complaint processed and track status of redressal of the same.
CPGRAMS: It is an online web-enabled system over NICNET developed by NIC, in association with Directorate of Public Grievances (DPG) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).
It enable submission of grievances by the aggrieved citizens from anywhere and anytime (24x7) basis to Ministries/Departments/Organisations who scrutinize and take action for speedy and favourable redress of these grievances.
Tracking grievances is also facilitated on this portal through the system generated unique registration number.
Aaykar Seva Kendra: A multi-faceted mechanism for achieving excellence in public service delivery reflecting the Service Quality policy of the Income Tax Department.
A single point of contact for the taxpayers where taxpayer request for services including grievances are registered and acknowledged through unique identifier for tracking the request throughout its life cycle.
- Sevottam scheme was launched in 2007 to standardize service delivery to the taxpayers. The Department identified the services delivered to different taxpayer segments and promised definite time lines for delivery of these services.
- The first citizen friendly single window Aayakar Seva Kendra to rollout these services was setup at Pune. Today, 15 ASK centres are functional in the country.