Similar to Ombudsman for banking services, the income tax department has its own ombudsman. Ombudsman is an official appointed to investigate the complaints of taxpayers against Income Tax department. So, he acts in an independent capacity to resolve the issues raised by the taxpayers. Generally, taxpayers are not aware of this mechanism.
Any individual who has grounds alleging deficiency in the working of the Income Tax department may file a complaint with Ombudsman.
A complaint on any one or more of the following grounds alleging deficiency in the working of the Income-tax Department may be filed with the Ombudsman:
- delay in issue of refunds beyond time limits prescribed by law or under the relevant instructions issued from time to time by the Central Board of Direct Taxes;
- non-acknowledgment of letters or documents sent to the department;
- non-up-dating of demand and other registers leading to harassment of assessees;
- lack of transparency in identifying cases for scrutiny and non-communication of reasons for selecting the case for scrutiny;
- delay in disposing cases of interest waiver;
- delay in disposal of rectification applications;
- delay in giving effect to the appellate orders;
- delay in the release of seized books of account and assets, after the proceedings under the Income-tax Act in respect of the years for which the books of account or other documents are relevant are completed;
- delay in allotment of the permanent account number (PAN);
- non-credit of tax paid, including tax deducted at source;
- non-adherence to prescribed working hours by Income Tax officials;
- the unwarranted rude behaviour of Income Tax officials with assessees;
- any other matter relating to violation of the administrative instructions and circulars issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes in relation to Income-tax administration. Any other matter relating to violation of the administrative instructions and circulars issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes in relation to Income-tax administration. The details are given in The Income ‘Tax Ombudsman Guidelines 2010’
No complaint shall be made to the Income-tax Ombudsman on an issue which has been or is the subject matter of any proceeding in an appeal, revision, reference or writ before any Income-tax Authority or Appellate Authority or Tribunal or Court.
Procedures to file the complaint:
The complaint shall be duly signed by the complainant and his authorized representative, if any, and shall state clearly the name and address of the complainant, the name of the office and official of the Income-tax Department against whom the complaint is made, the facts giving rise to the complaint supported by documents, if any, relied on by the complainant and the relief sought from the Ombudsman.
The offices of Ombudsman are located in select cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad etc.
Steps taken by Ombudsman:
The Ombudsman will forward your complaint to the concerned officer/authority and will try to resolve the issue through mediation. If the department fails to act within a month from the date of submitting the complaint, the ombudsman is empowered to award a token compensation (Rs.1000) for the loss suffered by the complaint and also persuade the authority to perform his duty.
Note: Above information is based on ‘The Income Tax Ombudsman Guidelines 2010’