THE E-FILING of income tax returns seems to have been hit by teething troubles. The Income Tax Department’s latest initiative has turned out to be a cumbersome affair for corporate taxpayers. However, experts feel that things would smoothen out once the assessees get used to the new format, which is now mandatory for the corporate sector.
“There is no denying the benefits in e-filing of returns, but there are certain grey areas that need to be addressed,” Chartered Accountant Manish Dafria, former vice-chairman of Indore branch of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) told Hindustan Times. “For example the schedules pertaining to tax deduction at source (TDS) and collection account number (TAN) are tough to process. Then, there are some technical glitches in the portal. I feel the new format should have been introduced in a systematic manner.”
Several assessees have complained that the portal hangs on minor typewriting errors such as extra spacing between words. Also, it takes a frustratingly long time to file returns.
When contacted, Income Tax Commissioner, Indore, S S Rana said the new system was working smoothly, but lack of familiarity could be an issue. “Obviously those who are not Internet savvy could be facing problems, but I am not aware of any technical difficulty with the website.” The new format, he said, does not accept any blank columns unlike the manual one. In other words, there is no scope for hiding any information in the new format.
But some chartered accountants say that downloading the return form and converting the voluminous ‘5-schedule’ file into an Excel spreadsheet (an XML e-return file) is time-consuming and burdensome.
Chartered Accountant Hitesh Jai Mehta, chairman of Indore branch of ICAI, was of the view that these are just initial hiccups. “We had encountered difficulty initially, but things are better now,” he told HT. “It depends on what time of the day you are filing the returns. Obviously, when Net is congested, the system will take longer to process.”
Official in charge of computerisation in I-T office, Indore, who did not wish to be named, attributed the delay to Internet connectivity. “There is no problem at our help centre where we use broadband connectivity.” He said Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), who have designed the website for the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), is constantly upgrading the software to make it more user friendly.
Tax practitioners are also hopeful that system would be fine tuned by next year.