Income Tax Re-Assessment Notice to a Dead Person is Invalid: Bombay High Court

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A two-judge bench of the Bombay High Court has held that the income tax notice sent in the name of a dead person is invalid through the information regarding the death was not given to the Assessing Officer before issuing of notice. The assessee, late Shyamsundar Dhumatkar was engaged in his individual business and filed his income tax returns till the year 2007-08. After this period he did not file the returns since he has no taxable income. In October 2016, the assessee expired. The Assessing Officer issued a notice in 2018 in the name of Late Shri Shyamsundar Dhumatkar under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 reopening the assessment for the assessment year 2011-2012.

The petitioner, wife of the deceased claimed that the notice was issued on a dead person and therefore, is invalid. The Petitioner, being a widow and legal heir of the deceased Shri Shyamsundar Dhumatkar brought these facts to the notice of the income tax department. Despite this, the Assessing Officer issued a notice under section 142(1) of the Act on 29/08/2018 and therefore the Petitioner has filed this Petition challenging the said notice dated 27/03/2018. While disposing of the matter, the bench comprising Justice Sarang V Kotwal and Justice Akil Kureshi noted that the Petitioner had produced the death certificate of Shri Shyamsundar Dhumatkar before the Income Tax authorities, indicating that he died on 14/10/2016. “Thus, the impugned notice of reopening of assessment was issued on a dead person. There are several judgments of different High Courts holding that the notice or reopening of assessment is invalid in law. A reference in this respect can be made to a decision of Gujarat High Court in the case of Chandreshbhai Jayantibhai Patel Vs The Income Tax Officer (Special Civil Application No.15172 of 2018, decided on 10/12/2018).

As also the decision of Madras High Court in the case of Alamelu Veerappan Vs. Income Tax Officer, Noncorporate Ward2(2), Chennai, reported in (2018) 257 Taxman 72 (Madras). It is not necessary to refer to all the judgments on the point. Suffice it to say, as per the settled law, notice for reopening of assessment against a dead person is invalid,” the bench said.


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