NEW DELHI: After conducting pilot projects in five cities, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has finally announced that the customs department will roll out pan-India faceless tax assessment by December 31. The move is an effort to bring more transparency into the tax collection process and curb corruption.
Faceless assessment was initiated as one of the tax reforms announced last year, where the government mooted faceless scrutiny in both direct and indirect tax collections to limit ‘tax terrorism’ and alleged harassment by tax officials. The government has already implemented the system for assessing income tax.
The CBIC has been conducting pilot runs of the system at select customs stations located in Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Gujarat, and Visakhapatnam, and the pan-India roll-out will be done in a phase-wise manner.
“Thus, the board has decided to begin faceless assessment in phases beginning with customs stations which already have the experience of the pilot programmes,” CBIC notification said. The first phase would begin from June 8, 2020, at Bengaluru and Chennai.
The new faceless process will be applicable for imports primarily covered by Chapter 84 and 85 of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975, which involves machines and electrical equipment.
Sources said that once the roll-out is successfully implemented, the system will be expanded to include GST assessment and dispute resolutions. Faceless assessment enables an assessing officer, who is physically located in a particular jurisdiction, to assess a bill of entry made at a different customs station. The process is virtual and automated to ensure that the assessing office does not know or meet the assessee in person.
The CBIC also said that once implemented, it will establish National Assessment Commissionerates (NAC) with the mandate to examine assessment practices for imported articles across customs stations. Turant Suvidha Kendras (Quick facility centre) will be set up in every customs station to help in trade facilitation.
System to debut in Chennai, Bengaluru
The first phase would begin from June 8, 2020, at Bengaluru and Chennai. The new faceless process will be applicable for imports primarily covered by Chapter 84 and 85 of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975, which involves machines and electrical equipment.