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Tax scrutiny norms issued
September, 02nd 2015

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) recently issued instructions to its tax officials for selecting income tax (I-T) cases for manual scrutiny for the current financial year 2015-16.

However, there appears to be no significant change in the selection norms as compared to those issued for the previous year.

Cases where I-T officials have in the course of an earlier assessment made additions to the income declared by a taxpayer in excess of Rs 10 lakh (Rs 10 crore for transfer pricing cases) will continue to be selected for manual scrutiny. "Cases will be picked up for manual scrutiny, where the addition to income in an earlier year's assessment, was made on a 'substantial and recurring question of law' which is either confirmed in appeal or where the appeal is pending," add the instructions.

Manual scrutiny is a regular feature carried out in selective cases to ascertain whether the taxpayer has declared his income correctly in his I-T returns and has paid the taxes due. I-T returns for the year ended March 31, 2015, are filed by taxpayers in the current financial year, which commences from April 1. For instance, salaried employees had to file their I-T returns for the year ended March 31, 2015, by August 31.

While the I-T Act does not define what is 'substantial and recurring question of law or fact', the matters that could come under manual scrutiny may cover those where additions to income were made earlier against a wide range of disputed issues such as tax deduction at source or eligibility of expenses claimed by a taxpayer.

In addition, all cases relating to survey, search and seizure and reassessment will also be covered by manual scrutiny. The provision for selection of cases where information of tax evasion has been given by government authorities will cover only cases where such information of tax evasion is specific and verifiable. Mere suspicion will not trigger manual scrutiny assessment. Further, the assessing tax officer shall record reasons for selection of the case and take approval from higher officials such as the Chief Commissioner or Director General of Investigation before proceeding with the actual scrutiny.

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