The new e-filing website of the income tax (I-T) department with a variety of new additional features was finally launched Monday evening for taxpayers. However, many users complained on Twitter about glitches on the new portal for filing of income-tax returns (ITRs), with several claiming that the website was not working.
Numerous users tagged finance minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman in their tweets. She in turn, tagged Infosys Ltd, which is managing the new portal and the company’s co-founder Nandan Nilekani urging them to ensure that the new income-tax e-filing portal does not let down taxpayers. She requested them to fix glitches in the new income tax e-filing website urgently and said that easing compliance for taxpayers at the earliest should be prioritised.
Many users are still reporting outage and are saying they are struggling to access the website. After the launch, officials said that it would take some time for the website to stabilise and only then taxpayers will be able to use all the features smoothly.
In 2019, Bengaluru-headquartered Infosys was given the contract to develop the next-generation income-tax filing system to reduce processing time for returns from 63 days to one day and expedite refunds.
Infosys had also developed the government's GST Network (GSTN) portal, used for GST (goods and services tax) payment. and return filing. It might be recalled that Infosys had faced scathing criticism in July 2017 over similar glitches on the GST website.
Interestingly, as recent as in January this year, many users were facing issues with both the MCA21 and GSTN portals. Lakhs of professionals like company secretaries (CSs) and chartered accountants (CAs) continue to have a hard time filing tax documents on these government websites. While the MCA21 portal of the MCA continues to give regular trouble, the GSTN portal was denying access to people in January 2021. The due date for filing GSTR3B was 24 January 2021 but taxpayers and professionals continue to struggle in their filing with the GSTN portal.
However, at that time, Infosys GSTN had accused unscrupulous elements for causing trouble to taxpayers while accessing the portal.
Coming back to the new I-T portal, which has been developed as a mission mode project under the national e-governance plan. The objective of this portal is to provide a single window to the income-tax-related services for taxpayers and other stakeholders.
Last week, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which frames policies for the tax department, had said the new website will be launched on Monday, but features like the online tax payment system and a mobile app will be activated only on 18th June.
The new portal is integrated with the immediate processing of ITRs to issue quick refunds to taxpayers, and all interactions and uploads or pending actions will be displayed on a single dashboard for follow-up action by the taxpayer.
It will also have free ITR preparation software with interactive questions to help taxpayers file ITRs 1, 4 (online and offline) and ITR 2 (offline) to begin with, and the facility for preparation of ITRs 3, 5, 6 and 7 will be made available shortly.
Taxpayers will be able to proactively update their profile to provide certain details of their income, including salary, house property and business or profession, which will be used in pre-filling their ITR on the new web portal.
Detailed enablement of pre-filling with salary income, interest, dividend, and capital gains will be available after TDS (tax deducted at source) and SFT (statement of financial transaction) statements are uploaded (due date 30 June 2021).
A new call centre for taxpayer assistance is also planned, and the portal will have detailed frequently asked questions (FAQs), user manuals, videos, and chatbot or live agent. Functionalities to fill in income-tax forms, add tax professionals, submit responses to notices in faceless scrutiny or appeals would be available.