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TOWARDS PAPERLESS ASSESSMENT RECORDS- REDUCE UNNECESSARY PAPERS

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TOWARDS PAPERLESS ASSESSMENT RECORDS- REDUCE UNNECESSARY PAPERS
By: CA DEV KUMAR KOTHARI
June 13, 2014
All Articles by: CA DEV KUMAR KOTHARI       View Profile
  • Contents

Reduction of paper in documentations:

Reduction of paper in documentation is possible due to technical advancement in record generation and record keeping in soft / digital form. It is easy to keep, handle, search, retrieve, transmit and print  documents kept in suitable soft forms. Keeping back-up is also easy .

E-filing of returns can be a big effort towards reduction of papers.

E-filing of returns and details:

When e-return is filed, most of relevant information are available in soft form. It is easy to get it printed. We recall days of physical form of return and assessment. It was usual practice to concentrate on the computation and other accompanying documents instead of the form of return. Perusal of the form of return was mainly restricted to check compliance of  procedural and  technical requirements. In case of e-filing these aspects are  (or can be ) checked at the time of filing by the system itself.

Similarly e-filed returns of TDS, and various reports about TDS, TCS, tax payment etc. reduction of physical documents can be achieved.

Information available at a click of mouse:

The Assessing Officers can obtain various information and reports related to any assessee on a click of mouse. For example, the return of income, various details filed in the return, are available in the e-return filed by assessee.

For cross verification details on OLTAS can be found at a click of mouse. The AO can verify details of TDS, TCS, tax payments, tax refunds , mismatch of TDS/TCS / tax payment claims etc. on a click of mouse.

Other information, past records:

Past assessment orders ( available in soft form), appeal orders etc. can be placed in folder of each assessee. In case of physical documents which are in typed form , soft documents can be generated and kept in records.

Old documents can be scanned/ typed/ converted in suitable forms and can be maintained in soft form in compute systems.

Database must be extensively used by the AO. CIT(A) , CIT etc.:

Data base available in soft form and at a click of mouse must be extensively used by the AO to reduce paper work. Higher authorities can also use the same.

In case of need hard copies can be obtained by tax authorities:

In case the AO  or other authority want to have hard copy of any such documents, he can get it printed. He can also print only relevant portion of entire document. It is not a difficult task. The tax department is equipped with men , machine and stationary  to obtain printed hard copies of documents. There is sufficient budget allocation for the same.

The assessee should not be burdened with requirement to provide hard copies:

Unfortunately it is general practice of tax authorities to ask tax payer to furnish hard copies of various documents which are already available to the tax authority on a click of mouse. We find notices and requisitions from tax authorities to furnish  hard copy of document like:

  1. Return of income.
  2. TDS certificates.
  3. TCS certificates.
  4. Challans for tax paid.
  5. Form 26AS.
  6. Hard copy of TDS/ TCS returns and challans.
  7. Details of directors.

All above document / details are already available to the AO in soft forms of return and reports, the AO can get them printed, if so required.

Well organized tax assessee are equipped to maintain, retrieve and print such documents. However, for small and medium organizations it may not be easy. Particularly if document or record is old one. Printing and providing documents is a time consuming process and it can cause  delay in work. The AO himself can get required documents printed to expedite the work. Out of a big document for example Return of income, all details may not be necessary in printed form, the AO can print only relevant sheets/ pages, However, if he asks the assessee to provide a hard copy of the return, then assessee will have to provide all sheets including not applicable and blank sheets. This will increase paper work and volume of documents in the assessment records.  It is also seen and observed that when the AO ask the assessee to furnish physical documents he just go on to add various items in the list disregarding that the same is available in his record- in soft form and also in physical form because the assessee had already filed the same, but AO may require another set from assessee instead of asking his clerk to trace and put on record all documents filed by assessee. 

Therefore, the practice of asking assessee to furnish such documents must be discontinued the authorities must place documents already filed properly in records (don’t ask again to file), print documents which are available in soft form. Tax officers must at least have a feeling of being at service of tax payers.

 

By: CA DEV KUMAR KOTHARI - June 13, 2014

 

 

 
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