Even nearly two months after it was launched on June 6, 2021, the new Income Tax e-filing portal is yet to function properly and still has technical glitches that prevent taxpayers from completing several functions.
After asking Infosys – the company which has developed the site – many times to resolve the issues, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has given a final deadline of September 15 to remove all the glitches, even as the extended due date of filing returns is September 30.
Even if all the glitches are removed by September 15, it’s near to impossible for all the taxpayers to complete their return filing work within 15 days. So, is the extension of ITR filing due date inevitable?
“Although the government has been continuously chasing Infosys for resolution of all issues / glitches faced by the users, the issues have not been entirely resolved till date. At the time of filing income tax returns, taxpayers are still encountering errors such as inaccurate capturing of details from Form 16, incorrect interest calculations, inability to e-verify the filed returns, Form 26AS details not being auto-populated, filed returns not being accepted for long periods, etc. Also, the income tax website was not available to the taxpayers for two days viz. 21st and 22nd August 2021 owing to emergency maintenance,” said Dr. Suresh Surana, Founder, RSM India.
“On August 23, 2021, the Finance Minister had a meeting with Infosys to seek clarity on the issues being faced. In the meeting, the Finance Minister allowed time up to September 15, 2021 for removing all the glitches and errors from the new income tax website. Another aspect, which we cannot lose sight of, is that as the due date approaches there would be significant increase in the website traffic with more and more users logging to file their returns and how the website would cope with such a heavy user interface needs to be watched for,” he added.
“It is pertinent to note that the due date for furnishing income tax returns in respect of taxpayers not subject to tax audit (other than companies) was earlier extended from July 31, 2021 to September 30, 2021. With only about a month remaining from the due date and considering the persistent glitches that are still being faced by the taxpayers and finance professionals owing to the poor functioning of the Income Tax portal, there is a good possibility that the Income Tax Department may consider extending the said due date further. However, no notification with regards to the same have been issued till date and the Department should issue a clarification at the earliest to relieve the taxpayers from the anxiety and stress in relation to the return filing timeline,” said Dr. Surana.
Expressing his view on the development, Pitam Goel, Founder Partner, Tattvam & Co, said, “In June 2021, the Income Tax Department launched a new Tax Portal with the intention to provide the taxpayers with a more convenient and modern seamless experience on the portal. It aimed at introducing modernization in the taxpayer’s experience and to make it more interactive. The new version replaced the long existing old version to make users interaction easy and attractive by introducing functionalities like instant ITR processing, new payment options such as net banking, UPI, credit cards etc., a single dashboard for all pending actions, uploads, and interactions among others.
However, ever since the new income tax portal has been launched, the only thing the taxpayers and professionals have experienced is technical glitches. Sometimes its inability to generate an OTP for Aadhaar validation, other times its failure to link old data for past returns or incorrect capturing of details from Form 16. The list of challenges of issues that the users are facing is long.”
“These technical glitches led the chartered accountants and other professionals to call for the due dates extension. The income tax department responded by extending the various due dates such as the due date for filing ITR by taxpayers not covered under audit was earlier extended to September 30 from July 31, for tax audit cases to November 30, and for transfer pricing cases to December 31,” he said.
“The Finance Ministry intervened in this matter by calling out Infosys, the developer of the new Income Tax Portal, for fixing the glitches faced by the taxpayers and the professionals. On Sunday, August 22, 2021, the Ministry of Finance summoned Salil Parekh, MD and CEO of Infosys to explain the reasons for the ongoing technical issues on the portal. On August 23, 2021, the FM, along with seeking explanation, demanded the issues to be fixed by September 15, 2021,” Goel further said.
“Considering that the portal gets fixed by the new timeline of September 15 provided by the Finance Ministry, it is almost certain the due date of 30 September for filing of the ITRs will get extended,” he opined.
Chartered Accountants filing returns through private software, however, are able to file returns, but are facing problems in e-verification.
“We use private software, so we don’t rely much on the income tax website. The only time we rely on them is when we press the submit button, which is now working fine,” said CA Karan Batra, Founder and CEO of CharteredClub.com, adding, “But verification of ITR is a big issue.”
As it’s not viable for all the taxpayers to buy a return filing software or hire a CA, the new e-filing portal will face even more pressure as the due date of filing returns approaches, which may result in the site crash due to overload. So, the due date extension looks inevitable.