New Delhi: Concerned over the rising cases of refund-related grievances of the tax-paying public, CBDT Monday issued fresh directions to the Income Tax Department asking it to process all such cases, pending this fiscal, within 15 days instead of the stipulated 30 days.
"In view of the large volume of pending refunds which are subject to proceedings under section 245 and the timeline of 30 days for responding to the notice allowed to the assessee and the same time period allowed to the assessing officer to confirm or correct the demand, it is taking too long for the demand to be verified and the refunds to be issued, leading to rise of grievances.
"With a view to clear the pendency of refunds which are subject to verification under section 245, it has been decided that the timeline of 30 days for the assessee and the assessing officer may be reduced to 15 days with regard to the notices issued under section 245 to be issued in the balance period of the current financial year," an order issued by CBDT said.
This is a one-time measure to clear the backlog of refunds and accordingly the reduced timeline of 15 days shall be valid only till March 31, 2016, it said.
A senior official said this is possibly the first time that the department has been issued such directions vis-a-vis clearance of refund cases and the timeline to issue refunds has been reduced to 15 days.
Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman Atulesh Jindal has himself approved the order, he added. The order pertains to refunds pending till the 2015-16 financial year.
As part of its aim to ease refunds, CBDT had sometime back directed the IT department to take "urgent" steps and resolve by March-end tax demand disputes worth over Rs 16,000 crore of more than 1.49 lakh taxpayers.
The directions pertain to notices issued by the taxman to a number of assessees under section 245 of the IT Act for 2015-16 fiscal where the latter have contested the demand raised and have emailed their response to the CPC.
An official data had said an outstanding amount of Rs 16,590.22 crore is locked in disputes as 1,49,321 individuals or entities have raised objections to demands made by taxmen.
"As many of these cases are time-barred by March 31, 2016, the jurisdictional assessing officers may be impressed upon to examine the response of the taxpayers urgently and take appropriate action in respect of such demand entries..," the CBDT had said in a recent order.
The Board, in this regard, had earlier asked its Bengaluru-based Central Processing Centre (CPC) to take a step-by-step action in these cases within one month.
The Board had said that when a taxpayer contests a demand, the CPC should issue a reminder to the AO concerned about the contention of the assessee, asking them to either confirm or make appropriate changes to the demand within 30 days.
"In case no response is received from the jurisdictional AO within the stipulated period of 30 days, CPC would issue refunds without any adjustment," the CBDT order had said.
The delay in processing and issuance of IT refunds had also attracted the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year and, after a review of the subject, he had directed the CBDT to resolve these issues promptly.