For income tax ‘Judges’, hikes linked to pro-department rulings

The government has linked the appraisals of commissioners of income tax (appeals) to the number of rulings they make in favour of the tax department This has spooked companies and tax experts who have told the government that this will skew decisions and lead to greater litigation and so-called tax terrorism The government has rejected the contention. The commissioner of income tax (appeals), or CIT(A), is the first court of appeal in a tax dispute. Their appraisals will depend on enhancing the assessment, strengthening the stand of the assessing officer or levying penalty, according to the Central Action Plan (CAP) of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). Commissioners also have to meet annual targets, as per the action plan. The government appears to have changed the definition of a ‘quality order’ on the basis of which appraisals will be conducted, experts said. According to the CAP, a commissioner can get extra credit for enhancing, strengthening or levying penalties on a taxpayer Tax experts say that the new system will mean that the CIT (appeals) would be focussed on strengthening the tax officer’s stand rather being neutral. The government said the new metrics wouldn’t affect rulings as appraisals were dependent on other factors as well.

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