Income Tax Ombudsman
Know your Income Tax Ombudsman
Location of offices
The offices of Income Tax Ombudsman shall initially be located at New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Bhopal and Kochi. The Government may notify
additional locations and appoint an Ombudsman for each location.
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When you can file complaint with Income Tax Ombudsman
Grounds on which complaint shall be filed:-
I. A complaint on any one or more of the following grounds alleging deficiency in the working of the Income-tax Department may be filed with the Ombudsman:
(a) delay in issue of refunds beyond time limits prescribed by law or under the relevant instructions issued from time to time by the Central Board of Direct Taxes;
(b) sending of envelopes without refund vouchers in cases of refund;
(c) non adherence to the principle of ‘First Come First Served’ in sending refunds;
(d) non acknowledgement of letters or documents sent to the department;
(e) non up-dating of demand and other registers leading to harassment of assessees;
(f) lack of transparency in identifying cases for scrutiny and non communication of reasons for selecting the case for scrutiny;
(g) delay in disposing cases of interest waiver;
(h) delay in disposal of rectification applications;
(i) delay in giving effect to the appellate orders;
(j) delay in release of seized books of account and assets, after the proceedings under the Income-tax Act in respect of the years for which the books of account or other documents are relevant are completed;
(k) delay in allotment of permanent account number (PAN);
(l) non credit of tax paid, including tax deducted at source;
(m) non adherence to prescribed working hours by Income Tax officials;
(n) unwarranted rude behaviour of Income Tax officials with assessees;
(o) any other matter relating to violation of the administrative instructions and circulars issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes in relation to Income-tax administration.
II. Central Board of Direct Taxes may include any other ground on which a complaint may be filed with the Ombudsman.
Procedure for filing the complaint
I Any person, who has a grievance against the Income-tax Department, may, himself or through his authorized representative, make a complaint against the Income-tax official in writing to the Ombudsman.
II (a) The complaint shall be duly signed by the complainant and his authorised representative, if any, and shall state clearly the name and address of the complainant, the name of the office and official of the Income-tax Department against whom the complaint is made, the facts giving rise to the complaint supported by documents, if any,
relied on by the complainant and the relief sought from the Ombudsman;
(b) A complaint made through electronic means shall also be accepted by the Ombudsman and a print out of such complaint shall be taken on the record of the Ombudsman.
(c) A printout of the complaint made through electronic means shall be signed by the complainant at the earliest possible opportunity before the Ombudsman takes steps for conciliation or settlement.
(d) The signed printout shall be deemed to be the complaint and it shall relate back to the date on which the complaint was made through electronic means.
III No complaint to the Ombudsman shall lie unless:-
(a) the complainant had, before making a complaint to the Ombudsman, made a written representation to the Income Tax authority superior to the one complained against and either such authority had rejected the complaint or the complainant had not received any reply within a period of one month after such authority had received his representation or the complainant is not satisfied with the reply given to him by such authority;
(b) the complaint is made not later than one year after the complainant has received the reply of the department to his representation or, in case, where no reply is received, not later than one year and one month after the representation to the Income Tax Authority.
(c) the complaint is not in respect of the same subject matter which was settled through the Office of the Ombudsman in any previous proceedings whether or not received from the same complainant or
along with any one or more complainants or any one or more of the parties concerned with the subject matter; and
(d) the complaint is not frivolous or vexatious in nature.
IV No complaint shall be made to the Income-tax Ombudsman on an issue which has been or is the subject matter of any proceeding in an appeal, revision, reference or writ before any Income-tax Authority or Appellate
Authority or Tribunal or Court.
Proceedings to be summary in nature
The Ombudsman shall not be bound by any legal rules of evidence and may follow such procedure that appears to him to be fair and proper. The proceedings before the Ombudsman shall be summary in nature
Settlement of complaints by agreement
I As soon as it may be practicable so to do, the Ombudsman shall cause a notice of the receipt of any complaint along with a copy of the complaint to be sent to the Income Tax Authority Complained Against and endeavour to promote a settlement of the complaint by agreement between the complainant and such authority through conciliation or
II For the purpose of promoting a settlement of the complaint, the Ombudsman may follow such procedure as he may consider appropriate.
Award by the Ombudsman
I If a complaint is not settled by agreement within a period of one month from the date of receipt of the complaint or such further period as the Ombudsman may consider necessary, he may pass an award after affording the parties reasonable opportunity to present their case. He shall be guided by the evidence placed before him by the parties, the
principles of Income Tax law and practice, directions, instructions and guidelines issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes or the Central Government from time to time and such other factors which in his opinion are necessary in the interest of justice.
II The ‘award’ passed under sub-clause (1) above shall be a speaking order consisting of the following components:
a) Directions to the concerned Income Tax Authority such as performance of its obligations like expediting delayed matters, giving reasons for decisions and issuing apology to complainants etc., except a direction affecting the quantum of tax assessment or imposition of penalties under the Income Tax Act.
b) A token compensation amount not exceeding Rs. 1000/- (Rs. One Thousand only) for the loss suffered by the complainant. c) Designation of the Income Tax officer to whom the letter of acceptance of the award is to be communicated as detailed in clause 13.4. (Click here)
III A copy of the ‘award’ shall be sent to the complainant and the Income Tax Authority complained against.
IV The ‘award’ shall be binding on the Income Tax Department and on the complainant provided that an award shall not be binding on the Income Tax Department unless the complainant furnishes to it, within a period of
15 days from the date of receipt of a copy of the award, a letter of acceptance of the award in full and final settlement of his complaint. If the complainant does not accept the Award passed by the Ombudsman or fails to furnish his letter of acceptance within the said period of 15 days or within such time, not exceeding a period of 15 days that may be granted by the Ombudsman, the award shall lapse and be of no effect.
V Any token compensation given as a part of the award shall be paid by the Income Tax Department out of the budget allocated under the head ‘Office Expenses’ of the office of the Income Tax Authority complained
against. Such payments shall take priority over any other expenditure from this allocation.
VI The Income Tax Authority complained against shall, within one month from the date of the award, comply with the award and intimate compliance to the Ombudsman.