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  • Representation of Income Tax Assessees

    As per provisions laid out in the Income Tax Act, certain persons or individuals can represent an income tax assessee on his or her behalf with regards to the filing of income tax returns. Representation could take place due to various reasons if the assessee in question is critically ill, is of unsound mind, is travelling or residing outside India etc.

    Authorised Representative Of An Income Tax Assessee

    As per law, eight categories of individuals can officially represent an income tax assessee as an authorised representative on his or her behalf. According to Section 288(2) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, the following persons are eligible to act as an authorised representative of an income tax payer or income tax assessee:

    1. Employee or Relative:

      As per the provisions stated in Section 288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, more specifically Clause (i) of Sub-section (2), any family member, relative or employee of the income tax assessee in question can act as an authorised representative on his or her behalf.

    2. Scheduled Bank Officer:

      As per the provisions stated in Section 288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, more specifically Clause (ii) of Sub-section (2), the Officer of the Scheduled Bank where the income tax assessee in question currently maintains or holds a current account, can act as an authorised representative on his or her behalf.

    3. Legal Practitioner:

      As per the provisions stated in Section 288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, more specifically Clause (iii) of Sub-section (2), an individual who is a legal practitioner, who in this case may be either a lawyer or an advocate, and who is currently practicing law in any of the civil courts within India, can act as an authorised representative on the behalf of the income tax assessee in question.

    4. Chartered Accountant:

      As per the provisions stated in Section 288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, more specifically Clause (iv) of Sub-section (2), the following individuals can act as an authorised representative on the behalf of the income tax assessee in question:

        • Chartered Accountant
        • Company Auditors
    5. Accountancy Examination Graduate:

      As per the provisions stated in Section 288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, more specifically Clause (v) of Sub-section (2), in accordance with Rule 50 of the Income Tax Rules, 1962, a person or individual who has passed or completed any of the accountancy examinations recognised and conducted by the Board, can act as an authorised representative on the behalf of the income tax assessee in question.

    6. Commerce Or Law Degree Holder:

      As per the provisions stated in Section 288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, more specifically Clause (vi) of Sub-section (2), in accordance with Rule 51 of the Income Tax Rules, 1962, a person or individual who has graduated as well as obtained a degree in law or commerce from any recognized university in India, can act as an authorised representative on the behalf of the income tax assessee in question.

    7. Previous Attendees:

      As per the provisions stated in Section 288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, more specifically Clause (via) of Sub-section (2), the person or individual who has previously attended or presented himself or herself on behalf of any income tax assessee in front of an Income Tax Authority, can also act as an authorised representative on the behalf of the income tax assessee in question. However, this applies only to those individuals who have done so prior to the application of this Act in specific Union Territories of India.

    8. Previous Income Tax Practitioners:

      As per the provisions stated in Section 288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, more specifically Clause (vii) of Sub-section (2), the person or individual who was previously practicing and performing as an Income Tax Practitioner as per the Income Tax Act, 1922, and before the Act came into force, can legally act as an authorised representative on the behalf of the income tax assessee in question

    Requirements To Be Registered As An Authorised Representative Of An Income Tax Assessee:

    At present, no provisions exist within the Income Tax Act or the Income Tax Rules with regards to any requirements for a person or individual to register themselves as an Authorised Representative of an income tax assessee.

    With respect to the categories of persons mentioned previously, there is no provision for registration under the Income Tax Act for the first two categories, namely:

    • Employees, family members or relatives
    • Scheduled Bank Officer

    For legal practitioners and chartered accountants who fall under the third and fourth categories, no provisions for registration under the Income Tax Act exists as well since both entities have earned their right to perform and practice their respective duties as legal advocates as per the law, and have already been enlisted with the following:

    • The Bar Council - For legal practitioners
    • The ICAI/ICSI & Companies Act - For Chartered Accountants

    With regards to the persons or individuals mentioned in the remaining four categories, there however, remains scope under which provisions for their registration as Authorised Income Tax Practitioners could apply. Exceptions to this are prevalent, especially in the case of persons mentioned in the last two categories, wherein any individual mentioned in these categories who has reached 70 years of age, will not be permitted to register themselves as authorised income tax practitioners.

    This leaves only the persons or individuals mentioned in categories 5 and 6 as the only individuals who are eligible to register themselves as authorised income tax practitioners. Individuals under these categories are required to possess the following educational qualifications:

    • Clearance of an accountancy examination
    • A degree in law or commerce

    Appearance Before An Income Tax Authority By An Authorised Representative:

    According to Section 288(1), any taxpayer or assessee who is liable to present himself or herself in front of any Income Tax Authority, with regards to any proceedings taking places as per the Act, and who is required to present himself or herself in person for the purpose of any examination on the part of the Authority, may send an authorised representative in his or her place, as per the provisions outlined in this section.

    In order for a tax assessee to authorise any individual to represent him or her, a written authorisation must be provided stating that the person chosen shall appear on his or her behalf as an ‘Authorised Representative’. This person could be any of the following:

    • A relative of the assessee or an employee of the assessee
    • A Scheduled Bank Officer at a bank where the assessee holds a current account
    • A legal income tax practitioner
    • A chartered accountant
    • An accountancy examination graduate
    • An individual with the necessary qualifications as prescribed by the Board
    • An individual who has previously represented the assessee
    • An individual who was previously an income tax practitioner

    Non Entitlement Of An Authorised Representative To Represent An Income Tax Assessee:

    In certain cases, authorised representatives may not be permitted to represent a taxpayer or an income tax assessee.

    • If the authorised representative is an individual who has previously been performing duties as an Income Tax Authority, but at a position equal to or higher than that of an Income Tax Officer, and who has been employed for three years or more from the commencement of this appointment, then he or she will not be eligible to represent the tax assessee in question for a duration of at least two years following the time of his or her resignation.
    • If the authorised representative
      • Has been removed or terminated from any Government service after April 1 1938
      • Has been penalised or convicted with regards to any offence that has taken place during tax proceedings
      • Has been declared bankrupt or insolvent
    • If any legal practitioner or chartered accountant:
      • Has been charged with misconduct and has had disciplinary action taken against him or her by any authority that has been authorised to carry out disciplinary measures against the individual
      • Has been found out to not possess the qualifications required to perform as a legal practitioner or chartered accountant, and has been charged with professional misconduct or offences by any income tax authority in conjunction with proceedings related to income tax
    • If the authorised representative is disqualified from representing a tax assessee as per the provisions outlined in Section 61, subsection (3) of the Income Tax Act,1922

    Amendments In Section 288:

    As per the Budget 2015, the following amendments in Section 288 of the Income Tax Act were proposed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and came into effect as on the 1st of June 2015

    • Any auditor who does not fit the requirements or qualifications to perform as a company auditor, as outlined in the provisions of Section 141(3) of the Companies Act 2013, will not be permitted to conduct an audit of any company nor provide any audit certificates or reports. This amendment is also applicable to non-companies.
    • Any person who has been found guilty and convicted of any activity that involves the act of fraud, will not be permitted to represent a tax assessee for a minimum duration of ten years from the commencement of the individual’s conviction.
    • Revision of the definition of ‘Accountant’ in Section 288(2) of the Income Tax Act, bringing it in line with the definition of ‘Chartered Accountant’ as per the Companies Act 2013

    Purpose Of Amendments In Section 288:

    With regards to the appointment of an auditor, the amendments in Section 288 were proposed for the following reasons:

    • To ensure an auditor can act and perform his duties in complete independence
    • To protect the interests of the company for whom the auditor is conducting an audit
    • To protect the interests of revenue
    • To ensure that no fraudulent activity takes place by an auditor or during the course of the carrying out of a company audit
    • To ensure audit reports and audit certificates are issued in a proper manner
    • To ensure that the taxable income of the tax assessee in question is calculated, computed and reported in a correct and proper manner
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