The Right to Information Act, 2005(RTI) is a potent tool for tax payers to find solutions to their everyday problems. Unfortunately, most taxpayers & tax professionals have not understood the scope and potential of the Act. With this article I want to bring to notice use of Right to information Act,2005 for encashing your pending Income tax Refunds.
The Right to Information (RTI) Act came into effect from 12th October, 2005 and is applicable on the whole of India, except Jammu and Kashmir. The Act helps many citizens to obtain information not disclosed publicly.
It must be noted that only assessee can apply under RTI to know the status of his/her income tax refund after one year from date of filing return. But he can be assisted and accompanied by a Chartered Accountant or a Lawyer.
I do not prefer for making application under RTI immediately. The course of action to be followed is -
1) File a simple letter inquiring about status of your return and status of Refund
2) File first reminder letter if you do not receive any communication for step 1. (Usually you don't get, do you?) after 15 days from step 1.
3) File second reminder after 15 days from step 2.
4) File Third reminder letter after 15 days from step 3.
My usual experience is that AO never reply to such communications and not at all bothered by your reminders.
Now your case becomes ripe enough to file an application under RTI seeking information about -
1) Status of your return and status of Refund
2) Information on how AO acted on our letter as filed in step 1 above.
3) Information on how AO acted on our reminders as filed in step 2, 3, and 4.
So far in my cases, the success of RTI applications in the Income Tax department is unbelievably approximately 100 per cent. In each and every case, the RTI application gets attended to immediately and you get pending refunds within 30 days. In fact I got most of the refund on the same day without any need to submit the RTI application. Mere disclosure to AO the intention of filing RTI was enough.
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CA Anand Mutha