ccording to government data, over Rs 5,400 crore is locked in pending refunds, which has become a major grievance for taxpayers.
Officials said instructions in this regard were issued early this week after a review meeting was held by Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia with senior CBDT officials as part of Finance Ministry's drive to ensure a taxpayer-friendly regime following a call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for steps to address their grievances and cut down on complaints.
The directive issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the apex policy-making body of the Income Tax department, to all Principal Chief Commissioners asks them to direct the assessing officers to expedite the process and issue refunds of less than Rs 50,000 and not facing scrutiny "as early as possible."
As per the order, also accessed by PTI, as of November 1, refunds have to be made on 2.07 lakh IT returns involving Rs 659 crore for Assessment Year (AY) 2013-14 and another set of 12.90 lakh returns pertaining to Rs 4,837 crore for AY 2014-15 which are pending.
The total amount involved is Rs 5,496 crore and a large number of refunds are for less than Rs 50,000 and constitute about 70-80 per cent of the total kitty of pending refunds for the two AYs, a senior official said.
"An I-T refund is not only the right of the taxpayer but is also cherished by them very dearly. The CBDT gets to see the maximum number of grievances from taxpayers on this front and hence it has been desired by the Finance Ministry that these refunds be issued to their rightful claimants as soon as possible.
"Only those cases which are chosen for scrutiny are not included under this drive. A number of refunds have an amount of less than Rs 50,000 and it has been instructed that such cases shall be issued refunds promptly and those exceeding this amount should also be issued as soon as verification has been done," the official said.
They said the refunds for AY 2013-14 and 2014-15 have already been "pushed" to the disbursing authorities by the Central Processing Centre of I-T returns based in Bengaluru and the task has to be accomplished much before the end of the current financial year.