The assessee aggrieved by the order of the assessing officer makes an appeal before the Commissioner. The Commissioner appeal is the first appellate authority and section 246A specifies the appeal which can be filed before the Commissioner.
Earlier, appeals made were burdensome on the tax payer in regard to the paperwork, compliances, procuring services and constant travelling to and fro in order to get the required work done. The NDA Government since being elected for the current tenure is trying to bring in tax reforms and to accelerate registration procedures. The current electronic filing of appeals can be said to be another step towards such procedures.
Electronic filing of appeals along with documents can be seen as a measure to reduce compliance procedure, transaction cost, cut paper work, minimize error resulting from human interventions and improve the efficiency of appeal procedures.
The department wants to ensure error free service and reduce deficient appeals being made earlier. Online applications will also include hearing of appeals electronically which can improve the time lag made in appeal and sufficiently reduce paperwork. The existing Form 35 used for filing first appeal to the Commissioner would be substituted by new form which as per CBDT would be more structured, objective and aligned with the current provisions of the Income Tax Act.
Electronic filing of appeals can be seen to be a step towards future however there could be apprehensions on such drastic changes. There has always been confusion when filing has been done from manual to electronically leading to wide confusion on documents to be filed, procedures to be followed leading to delay of appeals. Further the question would be the change in utilities, Central Board of Direct Tax (CBDT) has to make over the site. The unnecessary additions made by the assessing officer earlier could also lead to wide debate if found afterwards.
It could be said that this electronic filing of appeals could be welcomed by people as it promises to be more transparent and reduce compliance procedures.