Budget 2023: Proposal on Set off and withholding of refunds in certain cases
Section 241A of the Act deals with withholding of refund in certain cases. As per the said section, where a refund becomes due to an assessee under sub-section (1) of section 143 and notice for assessment is issued to him under sub-section (2) of section 143, the Assessing Officer (AO) may withhold such refund till the date of such assessment being made, if he is of the opinion that the grant of refund is likely to adversely affect the revenue. Such withholding can be done after recording the reasons for doing so and with the prior approval of the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner, and applicable to assessment years on or after 2017-18.
There is one more section i.e., Section 245 of the Act which deals with set off of refunds against tax remaining payable. It provides that where refund is found to be due to any person under any provisions of the Act, the AO or other income-tax authorities mentioned in the section, may, in lieu of payment, set off part or whole of the refund against any sum remaining payable by such person, after giving him an intimation in writing regarding the proposed action.
There is an overlap between the two provisions. Therefore, it is proposed to integrate the two sections by substituting section 245, so as to provide that where under any of the provisions of this Act, a refund is due to any person, the Assessing Officer or Commissioner or Principal Commissioner or Chief Commissioner or Principal Chief Commissioner, may, in lieu of payment of the refund, set off the amount to be refunded or any part of that amount, against any sum remaining payable (ie Income Tax liability for any AY) by the person to whom the refund is due, after giving an intimation in writing to such person of the action proposed to be taken under this section.
It is also proposed to provide that where a part of the refund has been set off under subsection (1) or where no amount is set off, and refund becomes due to a person, then, the Assessing Officer, having regard to the fact that proceedings of assessment or reassessment are pending in such case and grant of refund is likely to adversely affect the revenue, and for reasons to be recorded in writing and with the previous approval of the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner, may withhold the refund till the date on which such assessment or reassessment is made.
It is also proposed to amend section 241A of the Act to make the provisions of that section inapplicable from 1st April, 2023.
Further, as the amendments proposed under section 245 would have an impact on cases referred to in sub-section (1A) of section 244A, i.e., where refund due to the assessee is required to be withheld by the AO under sub-section (2) of the proposed section till the date of the making assessment or reassessment, it is proposed to amend sub-section (1A) of section 244A by inserting a proviso that in case of an assessee where proceedings for assessment or reassessment are pending, the additional interest shall not be payable to the assessee under this sub-section, for the period beginning from the date on which such refund is withheld by the Assessing Officer, in accordance with and subject to provisions of sub-section (2) of section 245, till the date on which the assessment or reassessment pending in such case, is made.
However, the proposed amendment shall not impact the existing position with regard to all other types of interest, except additional interest under sub-section (1A) of section 244A, payable to the assessee as required under the Act.
These amendments will take effect from the lst day of April, 2023.