Income Tax, Law & Society, Legal research, Technology

Are you ready for Faceless Assessments?

Faceless appeal regime will kick-in shortly. Good or bad, the new system places heavy emphasis on providing submissions in writing. Gone are days when visit to the Income Tax Office would have provided opportunity to clarify assessee’s case to the jurisdictional Assessing Officer handling the assessment. The requirement to submit assessee’s say in writing also means that written submission must be thorough, comprehensive and, of course, well written. The grounds for differing with a draft assessment order must be substantiated with accurate references to sections, rules, notifications and circulars as may be applicable. On top of that, quoting the right case laws will make the assessing authority to consider the submissions with more seriousness and in some cases to even accept them (even if only in part). 

This new regime requires practitioners to be thorough with their research.  Any opportunity of filling in the gaps comes only in written form and unless practitioners have access to technologically superior income tax law research tool, they will face challenges in submitting a well researched brief.  

I will Google my way through 

Most of us love Google, and it has come close to replacing the word ‘search’ from the English dictionary. But solely relying on Google searches in this case, could be a risky proposition. Google search throws up references to many useful cases or articles written on a specific  issue, but there is no assurance that those references are comprehensive and latest, and most importantly you may just miss something that is fairly important but on the 29th page as you may not be able to do a comprehensive search. You would essentially be looking for a pin in an ocean, not even a haystack.

What about tax databases? 

First of all, congratulations on not relying on a Google search completely. You are now moving into less user-friendly territory but you will be able to do a more thorough research. 

There is something that you should mindful of though. Legacy solution providers rely on efforts by court reporters and on physical journals to get the cases that feature on their websites. In this process, even though the case count coming from tribunals to courts remain significant, the legacy providers start selecting only reported/key judgements  to feature on their site. You could be missing out on unreported judgements – and this can cause dearly to your client’s case. 

Is that all? 

Actually there are many more drawbacks for products that don’t use latest technology, for our argument we will take a few. But a table is worth a thousand words, so let us show you. 

 Google Tax DB
(New Tech) 
Latest Case Laws    
Search within Issues    
Legislation Case Connection    
Jurisdictional Court Data*   
In Appeal Cases    

*CBDT has clarified that even though assessment is faceless, the decisions of the jurisdictional ITAT and High Court will have primacy over other precedents (barring of course the precedents from the Supreme Court which has the highest authority).  

Alright, tell me more about Riverus 

Before we forget, Riverus has a free version, which offers all of the above features that we have shown and much more. If you want to sit back, relax and do nothing, then there is also a premium version but we won’t get ahead of ourselves. 

We also offer: 

  • A daily email update in your inbox with latest income tax judgements and tax law articles for free 
  • Ability to search judgements by disallowance of specific items through intelligent search prompts for free 
  • Limited access to premium features like ready research dockets, industry trackers, litigation trackers for a particular assessee 

Our company is made up of lawyers and CAs who love building smart technology products and techies who love building smart legal products. We would love to have you as our customer and join our journey. 

So get ready for the faceless assessment regime, take a free subscription today. 

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