Difference Between Circular and Notification

Circular vs Notification

Notifications and circulars are commonly used documents and, in most ministries and their departments, one can see an abundance of circulars and notifications informing employees and everybody concerned about rules, methods or changes in policies implemented by the government or a higher authority. This article attempts to highlight the differences between circular and notification, for the benefit of those who are confused between notification and circular and cannot differentiate between them. In India, both are issued by Central Board of Direct Taxes.


Inside a ministry or a department, circular is made use of to explain some aspect of a law. Sometimes it is seen that another circular may be issued to clarify a point left over in the previous one. Otherwise, a legislative amendment is made to rectify the situation. Any law or a section of a law is explained in this manner to the employees of the ministry. It is more of an administrative guideline meant to clarify doubts. Explanatory and interpretive in nature, circulars are mostly issued by a higher level executive in Income Tax department. They often bring to notice relaxations given by the department. A circular is binding only on the officers of the department and not on the assessee.


Notification is just under an Act in importance and is more binding than a circular. Whether it is an assessee, courts or officers, a notification is binding for all. Notifications are issued by the government under the powers of a legislative enactment. Notifications usually work as a law to explain few procedural aspects of legislation. There are some notifications issued to explain the circumstances worded as may be prescribed and creating confusion.


What is the difference between Circular and Notification?

• Both circular, as well as, notification is issued by higher authority in taxation department (CBDT).

• While a circular is meant for the officers in a department, a notification is more like legislation in nature and binding upon all parties concerned.

• Both notifications, as well as, circulars are explanatory in nature.