GOVERNMENT APPROVAL FOR ABOLITION OF INCOME-TAX OMBUDSMAN AND INDIRECT TAX OMBUDSMAN IN INDIA

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The Union Cabinet of India chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has recently approved the abolition of institution of Income Tax Ombudsman and Indirect Tax Ombudsman in India.

In the year 2003, the Institution of Income-Tax Ombudsman was established to resolve complaints relating to public grievances against the Department of Income Tax and to facilitate the settlement of such complaints.

The complaints filed before the Income- Tax Ombudsman generally related to delay in refunds, delay in allotment of permanent account number, non-adherence to prescribed working hours by Income Tax officials, unjustified rude behaviour of Income Tax officials with assessees, etc.

The Income- Tax Ombudsman usually settled the complaints by agreement, through conciliation and mediation between the Department of Income Tax and the aggrieved parties, otherwise by passing an award directing the parties to perform in accordance with the award of the Ombudsman.

Whereas, the Institution of Indirect Tax Ombudsman was established to resolve complaints relating to public grievances against the Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax Department and to facilitate the settlement of such complaints.

The complaints filed before the Indirect Tax Ombudsman generally related to delay in refunds or rebate, delay in adjudication, delay in registration of tax payers, non-adherence to prescribed working hours by Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax officials, unjustified rude behaviour of Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax officials with assessees, etc.

The Indirect Tax Ombudsman usually settled the complaints by agreement, through conciliation and mediation between the Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax Department and the aggrieved parties, otherwise by passing an award directing the parties to perform in accordance with the award of the Ombudsman.

But it has been observed that with the increasing use of alternate dispute redressal mechanisms by aggrieved persons such as Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System, Aaykar Seva Kendras etc, both the Income Tax Ombudsman and the Indirect Tax Ombudsman have not been able to prove to be more effective than the alternate grievance redressal institutions. Therefore, the Government of India has decided to abolish both Income Tax Ombudsman as well as Indirect Tax Ombudsman in India.

Harini Daliparthy

Senior Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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