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The Income Tax Dept. has mandated pre-filling of Mobile No. & Email ID before filing of return of an assessee. Further one Mobile No. and Email ID can not be used for more than 4 times for incorporation in any assessee’ detail. This has brought lot of inconvenience to Income Tax Practitioners who were earlier filling assessee’ return on behalf of assessee. The natural reason for the hardship is the low internet penetration. Many clients do not possess an Email ID. Further the entire family in which every member is an assessee combined with their business entities (also an assessee) may not have any Email ID. The Mobile No. penetration is also considerably low in India.

According to communication from IT Deptt. the intimations/correspondence with the assessee’  does not reach the assessee since the Email ID and Mobile No. provided are those of Income Tax Return preparers or CA’s or the lawyer who files the return. Consequently, the corrective/ suitable action may not be taken by assessee in time. Further, the tax payers are not able to reset their password since the contact details provided (for email communication) may be the details of I Tax Return Preparer.

However, it is important to understand that the relationship between the assessee & his lawyer/CA is based on mutual trust and understanding. By providing his own Email ID & the Mobile No., the practitioner is absolving the assessee with unwanted troubles. The assessee may not check his emails regularly & further may not understand the importance of SMS communication which happens with the Deptt. The practitioner is aware of Income Tax Act & takes corrective actions in case of any default.

Further, the limitation of Email ID’s to 4 may not serve much purpose. This would only lead to creation of more Email ID’s by the practitioners to avoid inconvenience to clients who do not possess Email ID. The workaround of email id being limited to 4 assesses is already being circulated on net.

Further, the receipt of PIN in the SMS for registration of assessee’ Mobile is a cumbersome process. As a welcome step the Deptt. has facilitated a 24 hour extension to register the PIN’s.

It remains to be seen if the steps followed by IT Deptt. to directly reach/communicate with the assessee would eventually serve its purpose or would further add to the ever burgeoning  problem of bribery & corruption in the Deptt. (The Deptt. would now possess the contact details and Email IDs of assessee). Similar instances have been experienced in VAT Deptt. where the assessee has faced harassment from Deptt. officials for deposit of March VAT before 31st March to fulfil department target of revenue collection in a Financial Year. ( The due date is between 20th- 30th April according to VAT Acts. )

Further, the email communication has not yet received legal sanctity in India. We are still following the Paper communication era. There are no recognised/ identified Email Service Providers in India. The likes of Google ( Gmail ) etc. have their servers in US. There are hundreds of other non-Indian entities which provide E-mail infrastructure. Their services can never be relied upon.  Currently, Google does not charge any fees for providing Email Services to users. Providing Email service require huge investment cost in terms of servers and such companies may begin to charge from users anytime in future. The popularity/ ease of any communication system should not lead to usage of such system for legal communications unless legal sanctity has been provided to Email communication systems.

Best Regards

Ankur Aggarwal

ankur@klaggarwal.com

Web: www.klaggarwal.com

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