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NaFAC issues SOP for Faceless Assessment under section 144B


National Faceless Assessment Centre, Delhi (NaFAC), with the prior approval of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), vide F. No. NaFAC/Delhi/CIT-1/2022-23/112/92 dated 03.08.2022 has issued Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for various units viz., Assessment Unit (AU), Verification Unit (VU), Technical Unit (TU) and Review Unit (RU) under the Faceless Assessment provisions of Section 144B of the Income-tax Act (‘Act’).

This iSOP s issued under Section 144B(6)(xi) of the Act and is laid down by the Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, National Faceless Assessment Centre, New Delhi.

The SOPs have been issued to provide guidance to the Units and outline the process for facilitating faceless assessments as envisaged under Section 144B of the Income-tax Act. 

It is clarified that if any conflict in the SOP is noticed with the statute, then the provisions of the Statute shall prevail. NaFAC has stated that these SOPs are strictly for departmental use only.

Section 144B of the Act deals with the Faceless Assessment under the Act. Clause (xi) of sub-section (6) of this section provides that for the purposes of faceless assessment, the Principal Chief Commissioner or the Principal Director General, as the case may be, in-charge of the National Faceless Assessment Centre shall, with the prior approval of the Board, lay down the standards, procedures and processes for effective functioning of the National Faceless Assessment Centre and the units set up, in an automated and mechanised environment.

The 55-page SOP is divided into different headings to provide for the procedures to be followed by various units for conducting faceless assessment-

SOP-Assessment Unit

SOP-Verification Unit

SOP-Technical Unit

SOP-Review Unit

The brief of the SOPs for the Assessment Unit (AU) is outlined below-

1. The AU shall be assigned the following cases-

● CASS category 

● Compulsory Scrutiny Cases 

● Set Aside Cases 

● Reopened Cases

2. The initial questionnaire u/s 142(1) shall be issued within 15 days of assignment taking into consideration all the internal databases of the department.

3. Question on specific grounds viz., ground on which case is selected or set aside or reopened shall be included in the framed questionnaire.

4. The initial questionnaire shall be made comprehensive to avoid multiple notices u/s 142(1). Further, the assessee shall not be asked to submit information/ documents which were already filed or are available with the AU.

5. Time limit of 15 days for initial notice and 7 days for subsequent notices shall be given for compliance by the assessee. This time limit may be curtailed in time-barring cases.

6. In case of non-compliance of notices by the assessee, reminder notices shall be sent to all the registered email IDs with a request to comply within 5 days. Further, physical letter thorough speed post or SMS in the registered mobile number may be sent. Penalty under section 271(1)(b) may be initiated and also Show-cause notice u/s 144 shall be issued. 

7. Adjournment shall be granted only up to a period of 7 days.

8. After examining the reply of the assessee, additional questions may be framed. The requirement to make a reference to VU/TU shall be decided within 10 days of receipt of the reply.

9. SCN shall be issued where any addition or disallowance is proposed and shall give at least 7 days time to the assessee to respond. This 7 days time limit may be curtailed in time barring cases.

10. Within 2-3 days of the request, the personal hearing shall be mandatorily granted to the assessee.

11. The adherence to principles of natural justice has been given due importance in the SOP.

To read the full text of the NaFAC SOP dated 03.08.2022, click here.

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