The role of the Aaykar Lokpal in solving tax issues

The office of Income Tax Ombudsman (Aaykar Lokpal) has been created in the year 2006 to deal with complaints of the public against the Income Tax department.

Recently the department is encouraging people to lodge their income tax related complaints before the Aaykar Lokpal for quick redress.

The role of the Aaykar Lokpal in solving tax issuesThe procedure to lodge complaint:

The procedure to lodge complaint to the Income Tax Ombudsman (Aaykar Lokpal) is very simple. The complainant should write a letter to the concerned officer of the department. If the said grievance is not solved within a month, the complainant should forward the same to the senior official. If both the complaints yield no result, then it should be filed to the Aaykar Lokpal.

The reason of filing the complaint before the Ombudsman should be given in the application. The relevant documents should be attached with the application.

How much time does an Aaykar Lokpal take?

The time which the Lokpal generally takes to redress a complaint is six months.

Increasing popularity of the Aaykar Lokpal:

Due to the efforts of the office of the Income Tax Ombudsman (Aaykar Lokpal) to make people aware about the functioning of the Lokpal there has been an increase in the number of complaints filed to the Income Tax Ombudsman over the last few months.

Presently tax payers are fearlessly lodging their grievances before the Income Tax Ombudsman.

Object of setting up offices of the Income Tax Ombudsman:

The reason behind setting up offices of the Aaykar Lokpal is to facilitate settlement of complaints by means of conciliation and mediation between the income tax department and the complainants.

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The role of Aaykar Lokpal:

The officer referred to as the “Income Tax Ombudsman” is an official who holds independent jurisdiction and works as an autonomous authority.

There are in total twelve offices of the Aaykar Lokpal in India. They are situated in cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, etc.

Upon receiving the complaint, the Ombudsman serves a copy of the same to the concerned officials. Thereafter he tries to reconcile the issue by way of mutual settlement between both the parties. The order of the Income Tax Ombudsman is called as “Award”.

The “award” of the Ombudsman has to be accepted by the department. For complying with the said order, the complainant should communicate his acceptance within a period of 15 days of the receipt of the award. If the complainant fails to do so, the award shall have no effect.

Jurisdiction of the Aaykar Lokpal:

The Income Tax Ombudsman can help the complainants in solving their issues like –

(i)                  Income tax refunds ;

(ii)                Lack of response to communications sent to the income tax department;

(iii)               Incorrect demands resulting in harassment to the complainant;

(iv)              Failure to provide reasons behind scrutiny selection process;

(v)                Disputes in connection with interest waiver;

(vi)              Disputes in rectification applications;

(vii)             Returning of books of accounts after scrutiny proceedings;

(viii)           Refusal to allot PAN;

(ix)              Disputes relating to TDS;

(x)                Unreasonable behavior of the income tax officials;

(xi)              Matters relating to the Income Tax administration.

Restrictions of the Ombudsman:

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The ombudsman cannot interfere in the proceedings where the issue is the subject matter of an appeal, revision, etc.