(1) No tax authority shall impose substantial penalties for minor breaches of tax regulations or procedural requirements. In particular, no penalty in respect of any omission or mistake in documentation which is easily rectifiable and obviously made without fraudulent intent or gross negligence shall be greater than necessary to serve merely as a warning.
Explanation.- For the purpose of this sub-section –
(a) a breach shall be considered a ‘minor breach’ if the amount of tax involved is less than rupees five thousand.
(b) an omission or mistake in documentation shall be considered to be easily rectifiable if the same is an error apparent on record.
(2) The penalty imposed shall depend on the facts and circumstances of the case and shall be commensurate with the degree and severity of the breach.
(3) No penalty shall be imposed on any taxable person without giving a notice to show cause and without giving the person a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
(4) The tax authority shall ensure that when a penalty is imposed in an order for a breach of the laws, regulations or procedural requirements, an explanation is provided therein to the persons upon whom the penalty is imposed, specifying the nature of the breach and the applicable law, regulation or procedure under which the amount or range of penalty for the breach has been prescribed.
(5) When a person voluntarily discloses to a tax authority the circumstances of a breach of the tax law, regulation or procedural requirement prior to the discovery of the breach by the tax authority, the tax authority may consider this fact as a potential mitigating factor when establishing a penalty for that person.
(6) The provisions of this section will not apply in such cases where the penalty prescribed under the Act is either a fixed sum or expressed as a fixed percentage.