Direct Tax

Report No. 20 of 2009-10 - Performance Audit of The Appeal Process-Union Government-Direct Taxes

Date on which Report Tabled:
Fri 13 Aug, 2010
Date of sending the report to Government
Government Type
Union Department
Direct Tax
Sector Taxes and Duties


An aggrieved tax payer has the right to dispute a tax demand with the Income Tax Department through the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals). Second appeal against the orders of CIT (A) lies in the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) which functions under the Ministry of Law. On any question of law arising out of an order of ITAT, a taxpayer may appeal progressively to the High Court and the Supreme Court. Analogous right to appeal is also available to the Department against the orders of CIT (A) and onwards.

The dimensions of disputes in income tax are staggering. Rs 2.2 lakh crore is the amount locked up in appeals at various levels, which can almost wipe off the revenue deficit of the Union Government in 2008-09. On an average, 48 per cent of tax demands remain uncollected and disputes account for 45 per cent of uncollected demands. These factors, we felt, merited a performance evaluation of the appeal process. This is the first time we have attempted a holistic study of appeals. The topic was also suggested by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (Board) during our consultations on areas of concern in the Department.

In our study covering the period 2006-09, we sought an assurance that the processes ensure speedy resolution of disputes; they also identify litigious provisions in the Act for correction; the decisions for escalation of disputes to higher levels in the appellate hierarchy are based on a fair assessment of cost-benefit; the appeals are filed by the Department within the prescribed timeframe to avoid dismissal due to limitation; and the appellate orders are implemented accurately and timely to avoid inconvenience to the taxpayer as well as avoidable payment of interest.

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