E-Filings 2.0: Income Tax Portal Fails To Go Live On Debut Day

A tax adviser looks over paperwork while working with a customer (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)  

E-Filings 2.0: Income Tax Portal Fails To Go Live On Debut Day

Modern. Convenient. Seamless. With that promise, the Income Tax Department had announced its new portal “E-Filing 2.0”. The objective of the platform is to help taxpayers file their returns with ease and expedite the refund process.

The portal was announced with much fanfare and was slated to go online today. However, its debut was stalled till late evening and the site inaccessible. The reasons remain unclear.

E-Filings 2.0: Income Tax Portal Fails To Go Live On Debut Day

As per the information shared by the revenue department, the key features of the new portal are expected to include:

Interactive Software

The new e-filing portal incorporates a free interactive software for return filing. The idea is to assist those with little tax knowledge. Instead of filling numerous forms, taxpayers can now file returns by answering interactive questions. The software will be made available in both offline and online modes.

Return filing is still a task which many people find daunting and prefer outsourcing to professionals, said Ashok Shah, founding partner at NA Shah LLP. “The interactive returns are a great way to encourage people to pay taxes and retain maximum taxpayers in the tax net,” he said.

To minimise data entry effort during the returns filing process, certain information will be pre-filled. According to Ameet Patel, chairman of the taxation committee at Bombay Chartered Accountants Society, these items may include:

  • Bank interest figures.

  • Stock exchange deals as reported by stock brokers/exchanges.

  • Sale details of securities in the capital gains section of the ITR.

  • Details of deductible expenses like insurance premium, PPF contribution etc.

Initially, taxpayers will have to update their profile with details on salary, house property, business or profession. The complete automatic pre-filling will be available after statements of tax deducted at source and specified financial transactions are uploaded for which the due date is June 30.

Quicker Refunds

Processing of returns takes weeks and any refund arising from such returns would take even longer to be issued. The new e-filing portal aims to rectify this. It is now integrated with immediate processing of income tax returns.

This integration means returns will now be processed immediately. If no major inconsistencies are found in the data submitted by the individual versus what’s available with the government, the refunds will be issued swiftly.

Single Window

Until now, there were separate portals for filing of returns and payment of tax. And the tax payment portal allowed for payment of tax, interest, penalty or other dues from only restricted payment gateways. Credit card, debit card and net banking facility of only recognised banks could be used to make payments.

Under the new e-filing portal, a single window for filing returns and paying taxes is slated to be introduced. The new online tax payment system will be enabled to support net banking, UPI, credit card and RTGS/NEFT from any account of taxpayer in any bank.

The department has clarified that the new tax payment system will be launched on June 18 after the advance tax instalment date to avoid any inconvenience.

In another measure to simplify the user-experience, a single dashboard will now display:

  • All interactions between the taxpayer and the department such as queries, replies, written submissions etc.

  • Uploads made by the taxpayer or the department.

  • Actions pending for follow-up by the taxpayer.

Functionalities for filing income tax forms, add tax professionals, submit responses to notices in faceless assessments or appeals will also be available. The home page of the new portal will thus contain all the necessary details for a taxpayer, eliminating the need to click on multiple tabs.

The portal will also provide assistance in the form of:

  • A dedicated call centre to give prompt response to taxpayers’ queries.

  • Video tutorials explaining the various features on the new portal.

  • Detailed frequently asked questions.

  • Chatbots.

  • Live agents.

While the multi-step assistance mechanism seems to be a step in the positive direction, Shah cautioned that the back-end for such support needs to be strengthened for smooth implementation.

This revamp is something which will affect almost everyone and the number of calls that may come will be huge. It must be ensured that the call centre is fully functional with sufficient number of agents trained to handle all sort of queries.
Ashok Shah, Founding Partner, N.A. Shah LLP

Aarti Raote, partner at Deloitte India, said the new portal will certainly be a new territory and will require some “unlearning and re-learning”. Accordingly, adapting to the new portal may take time and efforts.

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