The new Income Tax e-filing portal has had its share of glitches and hiccups that prompted union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to ask Infosys to fix them soon after its launch.
The income tax department officials are scheduled to meet the Infosys team on June 22 to address the issues so that users don’t face any trouble in the future.
Income Tax portal 2.0
The I-T department launched the "new taxpayer-friendly portal" on June 7. The portal has integrated immediate processing of Income Tax Returns (ITRs). It allows quick refunds, enables interactions, uploads, or any pending actions. All these actions will be displayed on a single dashboard for the taxpayers to follow up on.
The idea is to reduce the processing time for returns from the current 63 days to one day only and ensure refunds are processed seamlessly.
The new portal has free-of-cost ITR preparation software, complete with FAQs. The software helps taxpayers with ITR categories which can be quite complex to understand along with a new call centre for taxpayer assistance and queries.
Glitches and bugs
About 25 major glitches and bugs have been identified on the portal. Complaints have been pouring in from June 8 onwards with issues ranging from long logging in time, non-functioning features, and inability to respond to notices.
Nirmala Sitharaman tagged Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani in a tweet saying, “I see in my TL grievances and glitches. Hope @Infosys & @NandanNilekani will not let down our taxpayers in the quality of service being provided”.
Nilekani had responded saying, “The new e-filing portal will ease the filing process and enhance end-user experience and it would be stabilized during the week."
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) department realizing the glitches are not going to be resolved within the expected timelines allowed filing form 15CA/15CB (required for foreign remittances) in manual format instead of filing it on the new portal.
The form 15CA is a declaration made by the remitter that tax has been deducted at source on payments made to the non-resident. The Form 15CB is a certificate furnished by a CA certifying the provisions of the relevant tax treaty and the Income Tax Act has been complied with when the payment overseas.
Salaried taxpayers are the worst affected as they have to file their returns by September 30. Users have complained that the website either does not open at all or opens after a prolonged delay. Another complaint was the portal was heavy and consumed a large amount of data.
A few of the users even questioned the timing of the rollout as it is the peak season for filing taxes and the launch could have been postponed to the non-peak period between November and April.
Others suggested if the old and the new portal could have run parallel for a month or two to ensure the common man and businesses wouldn’t have suffered.
The other complications were navigating through a massive 998-page user manual, worrying over the time-barred for not replying to notices issued by the IT department, recently incorporated companies unable to register, some unable to view past e-filed returns and many features continue to be displayed as 'coming soon'!
Fixing the issues
Despite assurances from Infosys that issues would be fixed soon, things haven’t changed.
The tax department statement said, "The meeting will discuss issues/glitches in the recently launched e-filing portal of the Income Tax Department" and will rope in other members from ICAI, auditors, consultants, and taxpayers for the same.
Infosys had bagged the contract for Rs 4,200 crore to develop the platform in 2019. The major IT player had in 2015 also developed the Goods and Service Tax portal for Rs 1380 crore.
As per a report by PTI in March 2020, the finance ministry had flagged 17 'areas of dissatisfaction over the GST network that included transition issues for taxpayers in Jammu and Kashmir, Aadhaar verification, and lack of scalability of servers.
The "unresolved or late resolved" issues included the delay in providing software for blocking of e-way bill generation in cases of non-filers of GSTR-3B and a lot more
Social media reactions
The portal had its fair share of jokes and also angry posts on social media.
Sahil Jain tweeted “Are you kidding me, @IncomeTaxIndia. ! I cannot register a Company's PAN on Income Tax Portal! Gotta ask the Company to wait for 18 years till they turn major from minor to pay taxes :).
Ameet Patel @patelameet tweeted saying, “please guide taxpayers on how to submit replies to scrutiny/ penalty/appeal notices from income-tax department when the new portal is not working? Your early action in the matter would help