The Income Tax Department is able to review an individual’s previously submitted income tax returns in accordance with Section 147 of the Income Tax Act, 1961. By delivering a notice under section 148 for Income Escaping Assessment, the Assessing Officer may choose your income tax return for reassessment, subject to certain predetermined criteria.

What is Section 148?

The Assessing Officer is authorised by Section 148 of the Income Tax Act 1961 to notify a taxpayer whose income has not been correctly assessed. This suggests that the Assessing Officer may start procedures under this section if they have reason to believe that a taxpayer has not revealed all of their income or has given a false account of it.

If the income tax officer disagrees with the taxpayer’s assessment and thinks that any income has not been properly assessed, they may issue a Section 148 Notice, which is a request for a reassessment of the taxpayer’s income tax return (ITR).

Section 148A was added by the Finance Act of 2022. It mandates that the assessing officer perform an investigation and provide the taxpayer with a chance to clarify their position before sending out a notice under Section 148.

Under Section 148A(b), the assessing officer is required to provide the taxpayer with a notice that includes information and unfavourable material that may indicate that income has evaded assessment. The taxpayer is able to reply by providing their own materials and proof.

The government added Section 148A to the Income Tax Act in the 2021 budget. Before sending a notification, the income tax officer must provide the taxpayer an opportunity to explain themselves if they have knowledge that the person has hidden income for a certain assessment year. The taxpayer is entitled to an officer hearing.

The taxpayer must be given a minimum of seven days and a maximum of thirty days to offer an explanation, according to the assessing officer.

The income tax officer will determine whether to issue a notice for reassessment after taking the taxpayer’s response into account. Should the officer choose to reopen the case, they are required to give the taxpayer a copy of the order along with a notice pursuant to Section 148.

Generally, if the relevant evaluation year has ended three years ago, no notice may be provided. However, a notice may be issued after three years but no later than ten years from the end of the relevant assessment year if there is proof of tax evasion amounting to at least Rs 50 lakh.

The income tax officer must have the relevant authority’s approval before conducting any investigations, offering the taxpayer chances, or issuing any instructions.

The notification under Section 148A, also known as the Show Cause notification, and all supporting documentation must be given to the taxpayer by the assessing officer.

If one is going to claim that income has eluded assessment, they must provide evidence. A mere claim is insufficient to support the sending of a notification pursuant to Section 148A.

The taxpayer’s response to the Show Cause Notice, which is mentioned in Clause (b) of Section 148A, must be taken into account by the assessing officer.

The assessing officer is required to grant the taxpayer’s request for a personal hearing, a third-party cross-examination, or a third-party statement only with the consent of the designated authority.

After that date, any notice under Section 148 issued without adhering to Section 148A’s process (i.e., without providing a chance to be heard) would be void and in violation of the Income Tax Act’s provisions.

The courts have repeatedly stressed that, in order to preserve the legislative intent behind the introduction of the new measures, the process specified in Section 148A must be adhered to strictly.

The taxpayer must file the income tax return for the relevant assessment year within the notification’s specified time frame and submit to reassessment after obtaining the order and notice under Section 148.

The deadline for sending out notices under Section 148

No notice under Section 148 will be issued for the relevant assessment year after:
a) Normal time limit: 3 years from the end of the relevant assessment year.
b) Specific time limit: If the Assessing Officer has proof of income totaling Rs 50 lakhs or more that has not been taxed, and three but not ten years have passed since the conclusion of the relevant assessment year.

Only in the event that the following requirements are satisfied for the pertinent assessment year will the Assessing Officer send out a notice:
– The taxpayer has filed their returns under Section 139.
– The taxpayer failed to file their returns after receiving a notice under Section 142 or Section 148(1).
– The taxpayer should have provided complete and accurate information required for completing the assessment of that relevant year. 

Responding to the Notification on Line 148

It’s important to remember not to take the notice lightly. If you receive the notice under Section 148, please adhere to the guidelines listed below:

  • First, look over the notice for any grounds for belief that the assessing officer noted in order to issue the section 148 notice. You can ask the assessing officer to send a copy of the recorded reasons if the notice is missing the reasons.
  • The notice will require a response from you, and you have the standard thirty days to do so. You have two options for responding to the notice: either file a return or send the Assessing officer a written response that includes all the information and supporting documentation.
  • If the assessing officer’s recorded “reasons to believe” satisfy you, submit the return as soon as possible. Provide a copy of the case to the assessing officer if it has already been filed. 
  • If you are completing your income tax return in response to a notification given under section 148, make sure you do your due diligence and accurately state all of your income and expenses. You can incur needless fines if you fail to accurately record any of your revenue.
  • You have the right to contest the legality of the notice in front of the assessing officer or a higher authority if you think the notice was given improperly or if the assessing officer’s justification for starting the assessment under section 147 is invalid.
  • In case you win your case, the Court would halt your assessment proceedings. However, in case the decision doesn’t go in your favour, then the assessing officer could proceed with the reassessment.

What happens if you do not respond to Section 148?

The Assessing Officer may use the available information to complete the assessment if you fail to reply to a notification issued under Section 148. To the best of their ability, they can, in essence, estimate and assess your revenue. You can file an appeal with the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal or the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) if you don’t agree with their assessment.

Who can issue a notice under Section 148

The Income Tax Act of 1961’s Section 151(1) lays out the guidelines for providing notice.

  1. After four years have passed since the end of the relevant AY (assessment year), no notice under section 148 may be issued by an Assessing Officer unless the Principal Chief Commissioner, Principal Commissioner, Chief Commissioner, or Commissioner is satisfied, for reasons documented by the AO, that it is a fit case for issuing such a notice.
  2. A Joint Commissioner must be satisfied, based on the reasons documented by the Assessing Officer, that it is a suitable case for issuing a notice under section 148 before an AO below their rank may issue one in any other circumstance.
  3. In accordance with the aforementioned(1) and(2), case, being satisfied on documented grounds, Principal Chief Commissioner, the Principal Commissioner, the Chief Commissioner, the Joint Commissioner, or the Commissioner by AO about the fitness of the case for issuing notice under section 148 of the Income Tax Act, need not issue the notice by himself.

Responsibilities and entitlements of the Assessee Following Notice Under Section 148

1. For any income deemed to be “income escaping” for the applicable assessment year, the assessee is required to file tax returns.

2. Following the filing of the returns, the assessee is entitled to obtain a copy of the notice, which includes the rationale for the Assessing Officer’s Section 148 notice-issuing decision.

3. The assessee has the right to file an objection contesting the legality of the notice if they believe the justifications given in the copy are inadequate or without merit.

4. The assessee must give good cause when objecting to and contesting the legality of the notification given in accordance with Section 148.

5. The assessee is entitled to request the presentation of distinct reasons for the dismissal in the event that the Assessing Officer rejects the assessee’s claims.

6. The assessee may also choose to contest the legitimacy and legality of the notice given in accordance with Section 148 by submitting a writ petition to the relevant High Court. This can be completed even prior to the conclusion of the assessment or reassessment.

7. The assessee may still file a writ petition challenging the legitimacy and validity of the notice under Section 148 with the appropriate High Court, even after the assessment is finished and the case is on appeal.

8. The assessee needs to present proof of the following behaviours:

 a. Asking for a copy of the Assessing Officer’s justification for sending out the Section 148 notice.

b. Submitting a protest against the Assessing Officer’s justifications.

d. Making an Assessment Request

d. Contesting the legality of the notice’s distribution.

Reopening Cases Concerning Income Tax Assessments

A decision has been made to shorten the period of time for reconsidering income tax assessment cases as part of the Union Budget 2021. It will now only last three years instead of the previous six. Assessments, however, may be reopened for a maximum of ten years in cases of severe tax evasion—but only if the hidden income above Rs. 50 lakh. Officer to explain why the assessee’s objections were denied.

Things to Consider While Replying to a Notice Under Section 148

In answering a notice under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act of 1961, the following elements should be taken into account:

1. To start, learn why the Assessing Officer (AO) sent the notice in the first place. People have the right to obtain a copy of the notification if the reasons are not stated in it.

2. In the event that the notice’s justifications are upheld, it is imperative that tax returns be filed as soon as possible to prevent any possible legal issues. If people have previously filed tax returns under Section 148, they must make sure the AO receives a copy of the returns.

3. File income tax returns with care and attention to detail. Penalties may be imposed by law for any omissions or inaccurate reporting of income or spending. Making sure that all pertinent data is appropriately reported is crucial.

4. To avoid any legal complications, familiarise yourself with the provisions specified in Section 148 of the Income Tax Act. However, in order to stay tax compliant and prevent any problems, it is advised that individuals have their income examined each assessment year.

People can efficiently manage the income tax assessment procedure and react to a notice under Section 148 by taking these elements into account.


In order to ensure that taxpayers whose income has not been properly examined are properly assessed, Section 148 of the Income Tax Act of 1961 is essential. Any notice you get under this section must be taken seriously, and you must reply right away by giving accurate and comprehensive information about your income and expenses. If you don’t reply within the allotted time, the assessing officer will make a decision-based evaluation that might not be in your best interests. For this reason, it’s critical that you abide by the rules and work with the authorities to guarantee a just and legitimate assessment of your tax obligations.

Adv. Khanak Sharma

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