|The office of the Ombudsman for the Income-Tax Department in Mumbai will start functioning from June 26.
Mr Hardayal Singh, the first Ombudsman to be appointed to this office, said that tax payers could register their complaints at his office either personally or electronically.
Grievances can relate to delays in issue of refunds, disposal of cases of interest waiver, rectification applications, allotment of Permanent Account Numbers (PAN) and release of seized books of accounts and assets. In addition, the office will also handle non-credit of tax paid, non-adherence to prescribe working hours by income tax officials, unwarranted rude behaviour of I-T officials and other matters relating to violation of the administrative instructions issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
The Ombudsman's duties include superintendence, receiving and facilitating settlement of complaints through conciliation, mediation or award; suggesting remedies and reporting findings on the I-T department, and recommending appropriate action against erring officials to the Revenue Secretary and Chairman of the CBDT.
"If I use my good office, I can use it for the benefit of the department as well as tax payers," said Mr Singh, adding that his office was not to be seen as an adversary to the department.
No legal powers
Appointed to arbitrate between assesees and the tax department on the recommendations of a committee of the Revenue Secretary, the CBDT Chairman, and the Member (Personnel), an Ombudsman's office has administrative powers and not legal ones, said Mr Singh, speaking at a function at the Indian Merchants Chamber here on Friday. The office can study a grievance and suggest remedies to the government but implementation is not its mandate.
Ombudsmen have already been appointed at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kanpur, Chandigarh, Bhopal and Kochi and more offices are likely to come up, according to the Income-Tax Ombudsman Guidelines, 2006.