After ushering in e-filing, the government is now set to revolutionise processing of returns. Jurisdiction-free processing of income-tax returns could be a reality soon, with the Finance Bill authorising the government to introduce such a scheme. This would speed up the refunds process.
Once the jurisdiction-free system is in place, processing of returns could be carried out at centralised designated centres instead of the respective ward where the assessee files his return.
The move is aimed at expediting the processing of returns and thereby quickening the issue of refunds. The processing of returns currently takes four months to a year.
This is primarily because there is no equitable distribution of the processing work. In some jurisdictions, assessing officers are saddled with 60,000-70,000 returns while in smaller jurisdictions officials have just 5,000 returns.
For the purposes of processing of returns under Sub-section (1), the board may make a scheme for centralised processing of returns with a view to expeditiously determining the tax payable by, or the refund due to, the assessee as required under the said sub-section, says the new provision which is proposed to be inserted in the Finance Bill.
In fact, the department is carrying out a pilot project for centralised processing in Mumbai. Information about an assessee is sent to the concerned assessing officer in his jurisdiction who then sends an advise of issue of refund to the refund banker.
The refund banker issues a refund cheque based on the advise.
To facilitate the launch of jurisdiction-free processing, the income-tax department is setting up a National Data Centre that is expected to start functioning soon.
All records of assessees would be uploaded on the National Data Centre to facilitate zone-free processing.