All assessees have to file their returns of income with the Income tax department to furnish the complete details of income pertaining to the relevant financial year. Once such a return is filed by the assessee, the next step involves the examination of the return of income by the Income tax department to analyze its correctness. Such a process of appraising and evaluating the return of income by the assessing officer is known as assessment. The term assessment also includes re-assessment and best judgment assessment under Section 144. The scrutiny patterns followed by the Income tax department have undergone a radical change over the years. As per the Income tax laws, there are five major types of assessments which are as follows: Self assessment under Section 140A Various forms for filing an income tax return in India are made accessible by the Income tax department; which are used by the assessee to consolidate his income from different sources. The assessee himself adjusts his income for losses/deductions/exemptions, if any, allowable to him during the financial year. From the total income arrived at, he reduces the TDS and advance tax to determine the net income tax payable. Such an assessment of tax is known as self assessment. Assessment under Section 143(1) or Summary assessment without calling the taxpayer Summary assessment is one of the major types of assessment which strives to cross-check the information submitted by the assessee in his return against the details that the Income tax department has access to. This is a preliminary appraisal of the return of income wherein detailed scrutiny is not executed. Under this assessment, the taxpayer’s total income is computed after adjusting for any arithmetical error in the return, an incorrect claim which is apparently clear from the information provided in return, any disallowance of expenditure brought into light in the audit report which is not taken into consideration in return, etc. However, no such adjustment will be made to an assessee’s total income unless an intimation of the same is given to him either in writing or in electronic mode. The summary assessment can be made within a period of 1 year from the close of the financial year in which the tax return is filed. Assessment under Section 143(3) or Scrutiny assessment Scrutiny assessment is a thorough assessment wherein an in-depth scrutiny of the income tax return is carried out to assert the accuracy and genuineness of all claims, deductions, etc., availed by the assessee in his return. The rationale behind this assessment is to ensure that the assessee has not understated the income or claimed excessive losses or underpaid tax to the revenue department in any manner. If the AO considers it essential to assure that neither any income has been understated nor any expenditure has been overstated, he shall, for the purposes of conducting a scrutiny assessment, serve a notice on the assessee demanding him to attend his office or to render any evidence in support of the income tax return. Such notice has to be served within 6 months from the close of the financial year in which the return is filed. As per Section 153, the time-limit for completing a scrutiny assessment under Section 143(3) is 12 months from the end of the AY in which the income was first assessable. Assessment under Section 144 or Best judgment assessment This refers to an assessment done in accordance with the best judgment of the AO on the basis of all requisite information procured. Section 144 obligates the AO to carry out a best judgment assessment in the following circumstances: If the assessee fails to file the return within the due date stipulated under Section 139(1) or a belated return under Section 139(4) or a revised return under Section 139(5)If the assessee fails to meet the terms of a notice issued under Section 142(1) instructing him to produce certain information or books of accountsIf the assessee fails to meet the directions of special audit issued under Section 142(2A)If after filing the tax return, the assessee fails to meet the terms of a notice issued under Section 143(2) in respect of scrutiny assessmentIf the AO is not fully satisfied about the completeness of the assessee’s accounts or if an accounting method has not been regularly followed by him For undertaking a best judgment assessment, the AO shall serve a show cause notice on the assessee. However, such notice is not required if a notice under section 142(1) has already been issued to him. As per Section 153, the time-limit for completing an assessment under Section 144 is 12 months from the close of the AY in which the income was first assessable. Assessment under Section 147 or Income escaping assessment Income escaping assessment is one of those types of assessment in income tax, which is undertaken by the AO if he has sufficient grounds to believe that any income liable to tax under the Act has escaped assessment for a particular assessment year. The utter objective of assessment under Section 147 is to put under the tax purview, any income which has earlier escaped the original assessment. Original assessment, in this context, means an assessment under Sections 143(1), 143(3), 144 and 147. According to Section 147, “if the assessing officer has reason to believe that any income chargeable to tax has escaped assessment for any assessment year, then he may assess or reassess such income and also any other income chargeable to tax which has escaped assessment and which comes to his notice subsequently in the course of the proceedings under this section. However, it should be noted that the subject matter of any appeal, reference or revision cannot be covered by the assessing officer under Section 147”. Some of the cases of assessment which fall under Section 147 include the following: Although the total income exceeded the maximum amount not chargeable to tax, the assessee fails to file his return of income for the previous year.It is found out by the AO that the assessee has understated his income or has claimed excessive loss, exemption, deduction, or allowance in the return of income filed by him and no assessment has been made.The assessee has failed to provide a report with regard to any international transaction which he was ought to do by virtue of Section 92E. For the purpose of carrying out an assessment under Section 147, the AO is required to issue a notice under Section 148 to the assessee to offer him an opportunity of being heard. Such notice under Section 148 can be issued within a period of 4 years from the close of the relevant assessment year. As per Section 153, the time-limit for completing an order of assessment, reassessment or re-computation under Section 147 is 9 months from the end of the financial year in which the notice under Section 148 was served. Furthermore, where the notice under Section 148 is served on or after 1st April 2019, the time limit for making this assessment is 12 months from the close of the financial year in which the notice under Section 148 is served. Conclusion The process of examination of the return of income by the Income tax department is called “assessment”. Different types of assessment are undertaken by the AO to ensure that the taxpayers haven’t hidden any information or underpaid any tax. There are occasions where, depending upon set parameters by the CBDT, the return of an assessee gets picked up for an assessment. Note: AO here refers to Assessing Officer of the Income tax department.