New Delhi: Till now the common tax payer was helpless against tax authorities, without any recourse against the discretionary powers of the tax authorities to search, raid and maintain the minimum level of decorum while doing so.
Not so anymore. All these issues can now be referred to the Tax Ombudsman. This is the authority where grievances which are not before any of the Appellate authorities can be redressed.
This was disclosed at an interactive session with Ms Baljit Matiyani, Income Tax Ombudsman, Delhi organized by PHD Chamber.
The tax ombudsman has sufficient powers. The order issued by its office is a speaking order and includes directions to the concerned authority to tender an apology letter to the tax payer. Also, it is put in the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) of the officials concerned. Though there is a maximum compensation of Rupees one thousand paid from the office, Ms Matiyani hoped that if this compensation was deducted from the employee it can be a deterrent to the officials and may act to reduce harassment by tax officials.
Though the office of the Tax Ombudsman has received 3000 cases in the last two years, Ms Matiyani wished more tax payers knew about their office and came up with their grievances. She wondered why there was not a single case of interest waiver application addressed to her office when there were lots of such cases.
The members present addressed cases of jewellery not been released even though 15 years back the orders were passed for jewellery to be released, books of accounts not being handed over, problem in refund of Income Tax in case of expat has executed power of attorney. Ms Matiyani assured that all these cases could be heard, but after proper procedure of filing the complaint in her office.
Mr V.S Wahi, Co-Chairman Direct Taxes Committee, PHD Chamber said that there was a psychological barrier in complaining against an Income Tax official and the office being situated in the CR building also acted as a deterrent.
First Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 17:56