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Mandatory Quoting of Communication Number in Income Tax Letters

mandatory-quoting-of-communication-number-in-income-tax-letters

Mandatory Quoting of Communication Number in Income Tax Letters: With a view to bringing greater transparency in the functioning of the tax-administration and improvement in service delivery, almost all notices and orders of Income Tax Department are being generated electronically on the Income Tax Business Application (ITBA) platform. However, it has been brought to the notice of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) that there have been some instances in which the notice, order, summons, letter and any correspondence (hereinafter referred to as “communication”) were found to have been issued manually, without maintaining a proper audit trail of such communication.



In order to prevent such instances and to maintain proper audit trail of all communication, the CBDT has, vide Circular No.19/2019 dated 14.08.2019 laid down parameters specifying the manner in which any communication issued by any income-tax authority relating to assessment, appeals, orders, statutory or otherwise, exemptions, enquiry, investigation, verification of information, penalty, prosecution, rectification, approval etc. to the assessee or any other person will be dealt with. All such communication issued on or after the 1st of October, 2019 shall carry a computer-generated Document Identification Number (DIN) duly quoted in the body of such communication.

CBDT has also specified exceptional circumstances where the communication may be issued manually but only after recording reasons in writing and with the prior written approval of the Chief Commissioner / Director General of Income-Tax concerned. In cases where manual communication is required to be issued, the reason for issue of manual communication without DIN has to be specified alongwith the date of obtaining written approval of the Chief Commissioner / Director General of Income-Tax in a particular format. Any communication which is not in conformity with the prescribed guidelines shall be treated as invalid and shall be deemed to have never been issued. Further, CBDT has also laid down the timelines and procedure by which such communication issued manually will have to be regularised and intimated to the Principal Director General of Income-tax (Systems).

In addition to the above, in all pending assessment proceedings, where notices were issued manually, prior to issuance of the above referred Circular, all such cases would be identified and the notices so sent would be uploaded on ITBA by 31st October 2019.

This is another step taken by CBDT towards better delivery of taxpayer services while ensuring accountability in official dealings.

Prior to this Circular, there used to be a Section 282B in the Income Tax Act, 1961 introduced by the Budget 2009 through Finance (No.2) Act, 2009 and further amended by Finance Act, 2010 which reads as follows-

"282B. Allotment of Document Identification Number.—(1) Every income-tax authority shall, on or after the 1st day of July, 2011, allot a computer generated Document Identification Number in respect of every notice, order, letter or any correspondence issued by him to any other income-tax authority or assessee or any other person and such number shall be quoted thereon.
        (2) Where the notice, order, letter or any correspondence, issued by any income-tax authority, does not bear a Document Identification Number referred to in sub-section (1), such notice, order, letter or any correspondence shall be treated as invalid and shall be deemed never to have been issued.
        (3) Every document, letter or any correspondence, received, on or after the 1st day of July, 2011, by an income-tax authority or on behalf of such authority, shall be accepted only after allotting and quoting of a computer generated Document Identification Number.
        (4) Where the document, letter or any correspondence received by any income-tax authority or on behalf of such authority does not bear the Document Identification Number referred to in sub-section (3), such document, letter or any correspondence shall be treated as invalid and shall be deemed never to have been received."


When the provision was inserted by Finance (No. 2) Act, 2009 the objective was stated as given below-

Introduction of Document Identification Number and facility for electronic communication: It is now well accepted that “tax administration is tax policy”. A tax administration designed to foster voluntarily compliance yields higher revenue than a sound tax policy administered by an inefficient tax administration. Therefore, it has always been the endeavour of the Income-tax Department to improve the standards of its service and transparency in its functioning. Therefore, it is proposed to introduce a computer-based system of allotment and quoting of Document Identification Number (DIN) in each correspondence sent or received by it so as to enable tracking of documents and minimize taxpayers grievances. 

With a view to give effect to the aforesaid, it is proposed to insert a new section 282B so as to provide that every income-tax authority shall allot a computer generated Document Identification Number in respect of every notice, order, letter or any correspondence issued by him to any other income-tax authority or assessee or any other person and such number shall be quoted thereon. 

It is further proposed that where the notice, order, letter or any correspondence issued by any income-tax authority does not bear a Document Identification Number, such notice, order, letter or any correspondence shall be treated as invalid and shall be deemed never to have been issued. It is also proposed to provide that every document, letter or any correspondence, received by an income-tax authority or on behalf of such authority, shall be accepted only after allotting and quoting of a computer-generated Document Identification Number. 

It is also proposed to provide that where the document, letter or any correspondence received by any income-tax authority or on behalf of such authority does not bear Document Identification Number, such document, letter or any correspondence shall be treated as invalid and shall be deemed never to have been received. 

This amendment will take effect from 1st October 2010. By Finance Act, 2010 the date was extended to 1st July 2011.

Instead of implementing the provision, the then government decided to withdraw it with retrospective effect from 1st April 2011 and section 282B was omitted from the statute by the Finance Act, 2011, w.r.e.f. 1-4-2011 due to non-availability of requisite infrastructure on an all India basis.

However, this time the CBDT issued the circular in line of the erstwhile section 282B of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

The Text of the Circular is given below-

Circular No. 19 /2019

Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
Central Board of Direct Taxes

New Delhi, dated the 14th August, 2019

Subject: Generation/Allotment/Quoting of Document Identification Number in Notice/Order/Summons/letter/correspondence issued by the Income-tax Department - reg.

With the launch of various e-governance initiatives, Income-tax Department is moving toward total computerization of its work. This' has led to a significant improvement in delivery of services and has also brought greater transparency in the functioning of the tax- administration. Presently, almost all notices and orders are being generated electronically on the Income Tax Business Application (ITBA) platform. However, it has been brought to the notice of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (the Board) that there have been some instances in which the notice, order, summons, letter and any correspondence (hereinafter referred to as "communication") were found to have been issued manually, without maintaining a proper audit trail of such communication. 

2. In order to prevent such instances and to maintain proper audit trail of all communication, the Board in exercise of power under section 119 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act"), has decided that no communication shall be issued by any income-tax authority relating to assessment, appeals, orders, statutory or otherwise, exemptions, enquiry, investigation, verification of information, penalty, prosecution, rectification, approval etc. to the assessee or any other person, on or after the 1st day of October, 20 19 unless a computer-generated Document Identification Number (DIN) has been allotted and is duly quoted in the body of such communication. 

3. In exceptional circumstances such as, -

(i)when there are technical difficulties in generating/allotting/quoting the DIN and issuance of communication electronically; or
(ii) when communication regarding enquiry, verification etc. is required to be issued by an income-tax authority, who is outside the office, for discharging his official duties; or
(iii) when due to delay in PAN migration, PAN is lying with non-jurisdictional Assessing Officer; or
(iv) when PAN of assessee is not available and where a proceeding under the Act (other than verification under section 131 or section 133 of the Act) is sought to be initiated; or
(v) When the functionality to issue communication is not available in the system.

the communication may be issued manually but only after recording reasons in writing in the file and with prior written approval of the Chief Commissioner / Director General of income- tax. In cases where manual communication is required to be issued due to delay in PAN migration, the proposal seeking approval for issuance of manual communication shall include the reason for delay in PAN migration. The communication issued under aforesaid circumstances shall state the fact that the communication is issued manually without a DIN and the date of obtaining of the written approval of the Chief Commissioner / Director General of Income-Tax for issue of manual communication in the following format- 

“. . .. This communication issues manually without a DIN on account of reason/reasons given in para 3(i)/3(ii)/3 (iii)/3 (iv)/3 (v) of the CBDT Circular No .... dated..... (strike off those which are not applicable) and with the approval of the Chief Commissioner / Director General of Income Tax vide number .... dated... " 

4. Any communication which is not in conformity with Para-2 and Para-3 above, shall be treated as invalid and shall be deemed to have never been issued. 

5. The communication issued manually in the three situations specified in para 3- (i), (ii) or (iii) above shall have to be regularized within 15 working days of its issuance, by – 

i.    uploading the manual communication on the System.
ii.  compulsorily generating the DIN on the System;
iii. communicating the DIN so generated to the assessee/any other person as per electronically generated pro-forma available on the System. 

6. An intimation of issuance of manual communication for the reasons mentioned in para 3(v) shall be sent to the Principal Director General of Income-tax (Systems) within seven days from the date of its issuance. 

7. Further, in all pending assessment proceedings, where notices were issued manually, prior to issuance of this Circular, the income-tax authorities shall identify such cases and shall upload the notices in these cases on the Systems by 31st October 2019.


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