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Income-tax Ombudsman Mechanism For Improving Quality Of Tax Administration

                     The next time you are disturbed by the delay in getting your refund, rectification or appeal effect order in time or you are irritated by the lack of transparency in identifying your case for scrutiny or you are upset over the harassment, rude behaviour or non adherence of the prescribed working hours by any Income-tax Officials, you need not feel helpless or take it down lying low. You now have an independent Watchdog whom you can approach for seeking effective resolution of your tax grievances and even obtain a token compensation of Rs. 1,000 for the loss suffered by you.

                       This is now possible, thanks to ‘The Income Tax Ombudsman Guidelines 2006’ introduced to improve the quality of tax administration and bring about more transparency in the system, effective from 1st January, 2007. The Ombudsman, an authority independent of the local Income-tax Department, is expected to impartially resolve complaints relating to grievances of taxpayers against the Income-tax Department and facilitate the satisfaction or settlement of such complaints.

                  The offices of Income Tax Ombudsman have been located at New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kanpur, Chandigarh, Bhopal and Kochi. In Ahmedabad, the office of the Income Tax Ombudsman is located at the First Floor, Nature View Building, Off Ashram Road, Ahmedabad 380 009.


The Ombudsman shall receive and consider any complaints relating to the following issues:

delay in issue of refunds.
• sending of envelopes without refund vouchers.
• non adherence to the principle of 'First Come First Served' in sending refunds.
• non acknowledgement of letters or documents sent to the Department.
• non up-dating of demand and other registers leading to harassment of taxpayers
• lack of transparency in identifying cases for scrutiny and non communication of reasons for selecting the case for scrutiny.
• delay in disposing cases of interest waiver.
• delay in disposal of rectification applications.
• delay in giving effect to the appellate orders.
• delay in release of seized books of account and assets.
• delay in allotment of PAN.
• non credit of tax paid, including tax deducted at source.
• non adherence to prescribed working hours by Income-tax officials.
• unwarranted rude behaviour of Income Tax officials with taxpayers.
• any other matter relating to violation of the administrative instructions and circulars issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes in relation to Income-tax administration.



                           The complainant, before making a complaint to the Ombudsman, must make a written representation to the Income Tax authority superior to the one complained against. The complaint with the Ombudsman can be filed if such authority rejects the complaint or the complainant does not receive any reply within one month or the complainant is not satisfied with the reply given to him by such authority.

                          The complaint must be made within one year after the complainant has received the reply of the department to his representation or in case, where no reply is received, not later than 13 months after the representation to the Income-tax Authority. The complaint to the Ombudsman against the Income-tax official may be made in writing or through electronic means.

                          The Ombudsman shall endeavour to promote a settlement of the complaint by agreement between the complainant and such authority through conciliation or mediation. If the complaint is not settled by an agreement within a period of one month, the Ombudsman shall proceed further to pass an ‘award’. Before passing an ‘award’, the Ombudsman will provide reasonable opportunity to the complainant and the Income-tax authority, to present their case.

                          The ‘award’ passed by the Ombudsman shall be a speaking order containing directions to the concerned Income-tax Authority for performance of its obligations like expediting delayed matters, giving reasons for decisions and issuing apology to complainants etc., except a direction affecting the quantum of tax assessment or imposition of penalties under the Income Tax Act. A token compensation amount not exceeding Rs.1,000 shall also be awarded for the loss suffered by the complainant. The ‘award’ shall be binding on the Income Tax Department. The Income-tax Authority complained against shall, within one month from the date of the award, comply with the award and intimate compliance to the Ombudsman.

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