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Taxman adds a new hurdle to e-filing of returns

Wednesday, 17 June 2009 - 3:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

If you thought life’s getting easier with online filing of tax returns (e-filing), here’s a counter-point. The taxman is working hard to deter you.

If you thought life’s getting easier with online filing of tax returns (e-filing), here’s a counter-point. The taxman is working hard to deter you. Starting this year, individuals who file tax returns online will have to use a digital signature. If they don’t, they have to mail the ITR-V (acknowledgement form) to an address in Bangalore.

Great, if you happen to stay in Bangalore. But what if you are in Mumbai, Delhi or Chennai? You have to courier it, and hope for the best. If the central processing centre does not receive it within 30 days of you e-filing it, you have to file your returns again.
Under the new rules, the ITR-V form generated after e-filing has to be printed, filled in and signed before being mailed to Bangalore (Income Tax Department, CPC, Post Box No 1, Electronic City Post Office, Bangalore  560100, Karnataka). Before the rule change, the ITR-V form had to be submitted to the income-tax office in the taxpayer’s city.

The main problem with sending the ITR-V to Bangalore is that the e-filer has no record of his having filed the return, barring the courier’s receipt. There is no stamped acknowledgement indicating you have filed returns. Shishir Jha, spokesperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), says: “As proof of having submitted the return, you have to keep a photocopy of  ITR-V and receipt of the Speed Post or courier document — the same as the receipt produced while giving a legal notice to someone.”
If the tax department had the e-filer’s interests at heart, it could have continued the system where the local office collects the ITR-V.  

“They could have collected it themselves, given a stamped acknowledgement to assessees, and then sent it to Bangalore. It would have saved us the hassle,” says chartered accountant Mehul Sheth. “Who will go to Bangalore and check whether the return has been received? The courier will not send you a signed receipt,” says a chartered accountant who was unwilling to be named.

“People will go back to filing paper returns,” he adds.“Wherever possible, we will avoid online filing as even clients want a stamped acknowledgement. They get suspicious if the acknowledgement is not stamped. There are also hassles in getting the digital signature certificate,” says Mumbai-based CA Paras Savla.

Sheth questions the need for having to mail the ITR-V. “A better solution would have been for the IT department to consider the electronically filed return as the final return, with the signed copy being used for verification.”

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