It was a brilliant scheme, but somewhere down the line, failed to click.
Four years ago the Income Tax (I-T) department introduced the Tax Return Preparers’ scheme: self-employed functionaries would fill up tax return forms for a nominal fee of Rs 250, easing the headache for the common man and generating employment at the same time.
However, Tax Return Preparers (TRPs), as they were called, are yet to make a mark in this niche segment of financial service.
Barring the metros and a few state capitals, the TRPs in Tier-II & III cities are yet to generate the desired response. Lack of awareness about the scheme amongst tax payers, and competition from chartered accountants and tax lawyers, have made matters tough for the TRPs.
“The scheme is very good, but I-T department’s response towards us is lukewarm,” complains Nagpur-based TRP, Vilas Rajbhoj. “Despite advertisements, awareness is poor. Even in government offices, they don’t know about TRPs. Getting business is tough.”
The scheme was launched in 2006 as a pilot project, to help small and marginal taxpayers in filing I-T returns and reduce the cost of compliance. In 2009, Service Tax was added: now the scheme is known as Service & I-T Return Preparers (STRP).
Currently, there are 2,000 active TRPs in the country. No fresh recruitments have been made since 2007.