Granting of Breathing Space for Compliance by Stakeholders
The Finance Minister,
134, North Block,
New Delhi – 110011
Sub: Granting of Breathing Space for Compliance by Stakeholders
We are highly disappointed to note the wordings of the press release issued on 24th April 2021 by the Department of Revenue, Ministry Of Finance, Central Board Of Direct Taxes in which taxpayers and tax consultants are used as a shield for the benefit of other stakeholders, stating “that in the view of severe COVID-19 Pandemic ranging unabated across the country affecting the lives of our people, and in view of the requests received from the taxpayers, tax consultants and other stakeholders”. We hope none of the stakeholders would ever have the wisdom to represent to extend due dates for re-opening of income tax assessments during this pandemic, and hence it is highly questionable that any of the stakeholder’s taxpayers or tax consultants may have ever requested to your Ministry or Board for extension of time limit for issuing notices u/s 148.
The approach of your Ministry, CBDT, and CBIC has always been partial during a pandemic. The extension is always granted to departments to take action against taxpayers while taxpayers are not allowed extension and they have to bear a heavy burden of interest, late fees, and penalties during pandemics.
In the last year, the lockdown in the country was announced in view of the Pandemic, from 24 March 2020. Merely, 7 days [including 3 Government Holidays (Gudi Padwa, Saturday and Sunday)] was the time lost by the income-tax department to issue time barring notice u/s 148 for A.Y. 2013-2014 under Income-tax Act as per relevant provisions of section 149. For loss of 4 working days, the department was granted a period of 15 months to issue notice u/s 148. The notice u/s 148 is required to be issued after recording of reasons on the due application of mind and after obtaining sanction from the competent authority. So at least most of the time barring cases of issue of notice, the process should have been completed well before 24th March 2020. So the action of the government in extending the period to issue notice u/s 148 from time to time in name of a pandemic is really unfair. On the other hand, the request for extension by taxpayers was rejected vide the order issued by CBDT u/s 119 on 12/01/2021.