Services at the click of a mouse

Initiatives to take I-T services online aim to bring transparency and objectivity

While the Budget has given a breather to tax payers through a tax rebate for the middle-income earners as well as higher standard deduction, the government has also promised to make life easier for tax payers in other ways. Stand-in Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said in his speech that the Centre has approved a project to make the Income Tax Department more assessee-friendly.

Soon, all returns will be processed in 24 hours and refunds issued simultaneously. He also announced that within the next two years, almost all verification and assessment of returns selected for scrutiny will be done electronically through anonymised back-offices — manned by tax experts and officials — without any personal interface between taxpayers and tax officers.

Over the years, the government has slowly but steadily taken several initiatives to take the services of the Tax Department online. Such automation and digitisation aim to bring transparency and objectivity.

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Returns-related services

With online tax return-filing with simplified and pre-filled forms, gone are the days when tax payers had to visit Income Tax offices to file tax returns.

The online tax-payment mechanism is a safe and easy process. While all the taxes deducted at source (TDS) and other tax payments can easily be verified online through your Annual Tax Statement (Form 26AS), issuance of certificate for TDS (Form 16 (Part A) and Form 16A) is also generated on TRACES (TDS Reconciliation Analysis and Correction Enabling System) website.

E-verification is another measure that has eased the process of verifying the returns filed online. You can do it from the comfort of your home by generating an OTP via a mobile phone, net banking, Aadhar, etc.

This has hastened the timeline for processing of tax returns.

It has also addressed some of the confidentiality issues that tax payers faced when sending their ITR-V through snail mail.

E-assessment has almost done away with the need to visit the Income Tax Department physically; documents can now be submitted electronically for completion of scrutiny. There is higher transparency in this method as one can easily monitor notices and submissions on the Income Tax Department portal.

Other online services

The Centre recently introduced other online services such as making minor corrections in filed tax returns, request for reissue of failed refund, generation of intimation, etc. Tax payers can use the the e-Nivaran e-chat facilities to address grievances. The Income Tax portal also has calculators for income tax, advance tax and gratuity.

Processes that were earlier manual are now available online, such as filing for lower tax deduction certificate (Form 13) or filing an appeal with the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) (Form 35). This apart, a person can now apply for a PAN online, and work is afoot to build e-PAN mechanics wherein the I-T Department will issue a digitally signed PAN card based on e-KYC confirmation.

The writer is Partner, Personal Tax, PwC India

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