'Faceless assessment of tax to help reduce corruption charges'

Topics CBDT | CBIC | Risk management

In a welcome move, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has introduced faceless assessment for goods falling under Chapter 84 and 85 of the Customs tariff. The first phase is being implemented from June 8, 2020, at Bengaluru and Chennai. The plan is to implement faceless assessment for all products throughout the country by this year-end.

Under this system, the self-assessed bill of entry filed by the importer and picked up by the risk management system (RMS), based on risk evaluation through appropriate selection criteria, will be marked by the customs automated system (CAS) to the nominated faceless assessment group (FAG) for assessment. All correspondence between the officers of the FAG and the importer will take place electronically through emails. 

Upon verification of the bill of entry self-assessed by the importer, the FAG may decide to return the bill of entry to the importer for payment of duty on the basis of the declaration made and documents available or seek additional information or documents for proceeding with further verification. FAG may get examination/ testing of goods carried out for the determination of duty liability and/or for ensuring compliance with any restriction or prohibition. Where the FAG does not agree with the self-assessment, it may re-assess the bill of entry. If the importer does not agree with the re-assessment, it will issue a speaking order after following the principles of natural justice. Personal hearing will be conducted through video conferencing off-98761r other reliable technological means at the option of the importer.

The port assessment group (PAG) at the port of import (i.e. the Customs station of import where the importer has filed the bill of entry for home consumption or warehousing) would continue to be the appraising group for all functions other than assessment for bills of entry referred to FAG. The PAG would also handle all functions pertaining to the bills of entry which are not marked to the FAG by the CAS as well as the bills of entry that are referred by the FAG to the port of import for any reason. In addition, the PAG would continue to be responsible for handling the examination/ inspection of goods besides all functions such as dealing with the requests for waiver of fee for late filing of bill of entry, requests for deposit of goods in a public bonded warehouse pending clearance or removal and sale of goods not cleared and so on.

A Turant Suvidha Kendra would be set up at the port of import as a dedicated cell to accept bond or bank guarantee, carry out any other verifications that may be referred by FAG, deface and/or debit documents/permits/licences, wherever required, and carry out other functions determined by commissioner to facilitate trade.

The CBIC has issued detailed instructions appointing nodal commissioners for the purpose of administratively monitoring the assessment practice in respect of imported goods, which are assigned by the CAS to the officers of the FAG and specifying their responsibilities. It has also issued the procedures to be followed by PAG and FAG in the normal course and in exceptional circumstances.  

The faceless assessment is a significant step in eliminating face-to-face interaction between the importer or the broker and the assessing officer. It can reduce the scope for allegations of corruption.

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