Chartered accountants (CAs) are calling it e-harrassment. With all registered Indian companies expected to file their returns online by November 30, CAs, facilitating them with the filing, say the online system does not work, crashes all the time and are alleging that it was put in place in an ad hoc manner.
Says Vimal Kishore of Trade and Corporate Jurists, “We are able to file only two or three returns every day; earlier, when there was the paper format, we could file around 15 returns a day.”
This is how the system works. A small applet developed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is available for download at the Income Tax website. The applet contains the 24-page I-T returns form electronically. A CA is expected to fill out the various forms, click a button and upload them.
A TCS spokesperson, when contacted by HT, said, “We have only developed the back-end software — we don’t operate the e-filing system.”
The applet was made available for download on October 15. “Initially the system crashed repeatedly for a couple of days. Then we increased the number of servers to four and boosted the bandwidth to 50 Mb per second from a mere 5 Mb per second,” says a senior Income Tax official requesting anonymity.
Arun Kutty of CA firm Virmani, Roy and Kutty, that files returns for some top MNCs, claims the real problem is in smaller cities where there is not enough bandwidth. “In bigger cities where you have broadband connections and fast connectivity, it’s proving to be a huge problem — imagine the state in the smaller cities where you only have dial-up connections! People are having to wait the whole day to file their returns.”
AK Sinha, spokesman of the Income Tax department, counters the allegation. “The CAs have not been able to deal with this change in technology and are spreading rumours that the system is bad.”
Take, for instance, the case of a CA whose form was repeatedly rejected because he left more than one character space between the first and the second name of his client." For the last few weeks the IT Department has come across CAs who do not even know how to use the e-mail.“ Obviously they will cry foul," he adds. But word is out that the extension of the filing deadline — from 31 October to 30 November — has been triggered off by this glitch.