FeDigitalDividend: Digitization making income tax payers’ life easier

With the whole process of I-T return filing, to refunds, and even handling of tax notices now possible online, dealing with the Income Tax Department has become much easier now.

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The central attendance monitoring system based on Aadhaar is tracking employees’ presence in government offices across the country real time.

aadhaar, aadhaar card, aadhaar card form, aadhaar update, aadhaar attendance system, aadhaar form, aadhaar enrolment, govvernment employees, government employees aadhaarFrom a modest figure of just 3.62 lakh income tax (I-T) returns filed electronically in 2006-07, which was mere one per cent of the total returns filed that year, the number reached close to 3.42 crore in 2014-15 and it has surpassed 2.88 crore in the current financial year already (http://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/).

This clearly signals an end of the cumbersome paper returns era, and has not only helped the Income Tax Department in simplifying the administration of the return filing and assessment process, but has also made the life of the tax payers much easier as compared to what it was a few years back, when people dreaded the income tax notices.

Thanks to the rapid digitization of the whole process, the Income Tax Department has now launched the ‘e-Sahyog’ project, which does away with the need for the tax payer to physically appear before tax authorities unless there is a serious tax evasion case which requires physical scrutiny.

According to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), “The objective of “e-Sahyog” is to provide an online mechanism to resolve mismatches in I-T returns of those assesses whose returns have been selected for scrutiny, without visiting the Income Tax Office. Under this initiative the Department will provide an end to end e-service using SMS, e-mails to inform the tax assesses of the mismatch”.

The tax payers simply need to visit the e-filing portal and log in with their user-ID and password to view mismatch related information and submit online response — the responses will be processed and if found satisfactory as per automated closure rules, the issue will be treated as closed, and the tax payers can check the updated status online.
While this move is slated to take the unnecessary harassments out of the scrutiny process, the extended use of digital platform to link Aadhaar with the I-T returns is helping the department expedite the refund process by quick and assured identification of the tax payers.

The newly introduced e-verification of I-T returns for the Assessment year 2015-16 has already resulted in linking of 3863223 Permanent Account Numbers (PAN) to Aadhaar and e-verification of 4677358 returns through bank accounts.

So, starting from the payment of taxes to filing of returns, exchange of assessment-related information between the tax payer and the taxman, even refunds or scrutiny, everything can be done online today.

Once there is an extensive linkage of PAN to Aadhaar going forward, the need for any physical interface between the tax payers and the Income Tax Department will completely vanish in a majority of the cases.

Clearly, digitization has brought in the changes in the tax payer services in the last few years that were perceived to be the difficult ones for a long time.

(Keep looking at this space for more examples of this kind on how digital solutions are transforming administration and governance in the country. If you have any of these and want to share it with us, mail it to feonline@expressindia.com).

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