Income Tax Ombudsman was introduced in 2006 with an objective to provide a platform for complaints relating to public grievances against Income Tax Department and also to facilitate the satisfaction and settlement of such complaints.
It is an independent arbitrary body i.e. independent of the Income Tax Department Jurisdiction. The offices of IT Ombudsman were initially located in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kanpur, Chandigarh, Bhopal and Kochi but now there are 29 ombudsman offices in all.
Grounds on which complaint can be filed to Ombudsman:
- Deficiencies in working of Income Tax Department such as delay in issue of refund, delay in disposing cases of interest waiver, delay in disposal of rectification application, delay in allotment of PAN, non-adherence of prescribed working hours and on any other grounds specified in clause 9 of Income tax Ombudsman 2006
- Central Board of Direct Tax may also include any other ground on which complaint can be filed with Ombudsman
- No complaints on the issues which have been or are the subject matter of any proceeding in an appeal, revision or reference or writ before any income tax authority or judiciary body
How to file a complaint?
- Before filing complaint in Ombudsman, the complainant has to make a written representation to the superior Income tax authority to the one against which complaint is about
- If the complainant does not receive a reply, or his complain was rejected or if he was not satisfied from the reply then he can file the complaint within one year of such reply and in case of no reply within one year from the end of one month from the date on which complaint is filed
- Complaint to Ombudsman can be made both manually and electronically. Manual complaints must have signature, address of complainant, name of office and official against whom complaint is made, facts of the matter and supported documents. Complaint sent through electronic means is required to be signed by the complainant at the earliest possible before ombudsman takes any steps for conciliation or settlement.
- On receipt of any complaint along with the copy of the complaint, a cause notice is sent to the Income Tax Authority complained against and endeavour to promote a settlement of the complaint by the agreement between the complaint and such authority through mediation.
- The Ombudsman has to reply or settle the complaint within one month or the time they consider necessary, the ombudsman can pass a decision or an ‘award’ which will consist of directions to Income tax authority and a token of compensation up to 1000 to the complainant for the loss suffered.
- Award is binding on the Income Tax authority against which complain was made. It has to be complied with within one month of issue of direction and intimated to the Ombudsman.
- The award is only binding on Income tax Authority if they give acceptance for the award within 15 days from the date of receipt of a copy of award, otherwise the award shall lapse and will have no effect.