When the Union government announced launch of new website of income tax (I-T) department, taxpayers were expecting some better functionality and ease. However, as if the delayed launch were not enough, the new portal, www.incometax.gov.in
, continues to frustrate taxpayers with technical issues for almost every functionality. That too when there is a 1,000 page note on how to use the new portal effectively!
In fact, even after a snub from finance minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman, the technical issues of this new portal remain unresolved. So much so that the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) department had to allow filing form 15CA/15CB (required for foreign remittances) in manual format instead of filing it on the new portal.
Almost every user has been complaining of technical issues
from the very first day and even after a week the glitches continue. Taxpayers are unable to view past e-filed returns and many features continue to be displayed as 'coming soon'.
The website, developed by Infosys Ltd, also providing some funny moments for taxpayers. For example, while a user was trying to register his company’s permanent account number (PAN), he got a message saying “…you are minor and not authorised under the law….”
Moreover, people are also sniggering at the recently released mammoth 998-page note on guidelines on how to navigate the new I-T website. It is yet another example of the ground reality of the so-called ‘Digital India’.
All taxpayers, including the salaried (whose I-T returns for the FY20-21 are due by 30th September), may continue to face a huge hurdle if all the problems are not immediately addressed.
Experts say that a parallel run of the old and new I-T portals for a month or two could have eased the issues which taxpayers are currently facing.
Many users are complaining that the website does not load up at all, despite many attempts and, if it does load up after a long delay, the portal is very heavy and consumes so much of data their daily quota of data gets over within minutes.
Irate users also expressed their disappointment at the government for choosing to roll out such a portal in peak tax season. There are over 84.6 million individual registered users of the I-T e-filing portal.
There are multiple problems, which need to be urgently addressed. Taxpayers cannot reply to notices received from the I-T department. In some cases, if the reply is not received within a certain period, the case can become time-barred. Delay in replying to I-T notices can have penal consequences.
Newly incorporated firms and companies are unable to register. It is not possible to register the TAN number for filing tax deducted at source (TDS) returns. Digital signature certificate is not getting registered or updated.
Profile updation may lead to a mismatch, which cannot be rectified on the portal. It may need Aadhaar or PAN to be updated.
CA Krishna Rao says, “Such a heavy site being made to go live in peak tax season with so many bugs and errors is leading to large scale public frustration.”
Last week, the I-T department had informed taxpayers to re-register their digital signature certificate (DSC) once again on the newly launched I-T website e-filing 2.0.
The new portal can be accessed by taxpayers in various regional languages. The I-T department also asked taxpayers to re-register their DSC, update personal mobile number, and email ID under 'primary contact', act on 'pending action', if any, and respond to 'outstanding demand'.
A DSC is an electronic form of your signature. Electronic documents such as e-forms, e-tenders and e-applications are required to be signed digitally. A licensed certifying authority can issue these (under section 24 of the Indian Information Technology Act, 2000). For taxation purpose, in certain cases, it is mandatory to e-file ITR using digital signatures.
CA Vishal Shah says the technical snags have created a significant hardship for businesses, which require payments to be made outside India, for placing orders or for obtaining licenses or meeting their commercial obligations. He explained that May to October is the peak season, when there is a lot of load on the I-T website and from November to April, there is lower traffic on the I-T website.
“They could have launched in the non-peak period and they could have easily done testing and released several tutorials as well,” he says.
Though the tax filing deadline is 30th September, many people want to file their returns right now to avoid interest on late payment of tax (no relief has been given yet and 1% interest per month is applicable for delayed filing) and also because some people want to take home loan for which income tax return (ITR) is required. For some people whose excess tax deducted at source (TDS) was collected, they want to file their tax returns and claim their refunds.
With the deadline for issuing Form 16 by employers extended up to 15 July 2021, filing of returns by salaried employees is yet to pick up. Moreover, with many taxpayers filing their ITR just before the due date, the e-filing portal usually sees maximum load just before the due date for filing return.
In the past many years, we have witnessed that heavy load around the due date used to trip even the old lighter I-T website down. This often resulted in last minute extension of due dates sometimes.
If this is the condition of the new e-filing portal now itself, public is wondering about the state of things to come when the higher load hits the website. It may well prove to be the worst nightmare for taxpayers who try to file their returns close to the extended due date of 30 September 2021, unless extended further.
Social media has been overflowing with memes on the new income tax portal.
The old website was shut down on 31st May and the glitches continue with the new portal; hence, filing of online Forms 15CA and 15CB has not been possible for over two weeks.
Meanwhile the I-T department issued a circular allowing manual filing of Form 15CA/15CB (required for foreign remittances) with banks till 30th June, so that business transactions may go on.
The I-T department also advised authorised dealers to accept such forms till 30 June 2021 for the purpose of foreign remittances.
"A facility will be provided on the new e-filing portal to upload these forms at a later date for the purpose of generation of the document identification number," the statement added.
Any person who needs to make a foreign outward remittance, needs to file an online form or declaration in form 15CA specifying nature of transaction and amount of I-T deducted on such foreign remittance.
In certain cases, this form 15CA is also backed by a CA's certificate in form 15CB, who certifies that appropriate income tax has been deducted on such remittance. Such forms (15CA and 15CB) were required to be filled online using I-T e-filing portal.