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Home / Money / Personal Finance /  Tax experts bat for restoration of old site until new one is fighting fit

The ministry of finance summoned Salil Parekh, managing director and chief executive officer, Infosys, on Monday to explain to the finance minister why the new tax portal is not functioning properly even after about two-and-a-half months of its launch. The finance minister has given Infosys time till 15 September to resolve the issues.

Against this backdrop, we asked a few experts if switching back to the old portal was a possible solution to taxpayers’ woes right now. Here is what they said.

 

Ved Jain, former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Icai)

The income tax portal is not a social platform. It is a tax portal that creates financial obligations as well as penal obligations, including prosecution, in case of default. Thus, a tax portal can’t be put to use with so many glitches and bugs with so many failures in uploading information and doing compliances.

Hence, it will be advisable to go back to the old portal. For a tax portal like this, there was a need to involve people who understand not only the basics but all the complexities and the nitty-gritty of income tax.

In the absence of involvement of these persons, the new portal is a total mess. As I understand, the basic structure itself will have to be changed. That is why I will suggest that this new portal be taken off for the time being.

Let the old portal be revived for this year so that the agony of taxpayers and tax administrators is not prolonged. Meanwhile, working on the new portal to restructure the same can continue offline. This new portal may need drastic changes from the basic level.

Take the help of those who understand the complexity of income tax laws and compliances thereof and also all stakeholders (taxpayers , chartered accountants and tax officers) who have been and will be using the income tax portal. After all their inputs are received and changes are incorporated, let there be a mock trial of the new portal for at least one or two months by select taxpayers, consultants, tax administrators and assessing officers to address any glitches or bugs.

After passing the mock trial , the new portal may be made live from next year, that is from 1 April 2022. This will ensure that the new portal will function smoothly without any glitches.

 

Amit Maheswari, tax partner, AKM Global, a tax and consulting firm

The intent behind the new e-filing portal was to make the life of the taxpayer easy at the end of the day, which has not been entirely fulfilled.

Login issues are the most common ones on the new portal. There are other issues such as new companies being unable to register themselves on the portal and also while logging in through TAN, the taxpayer’s name is not visible and ITR only post AY 2013-14 can be downloaded. Hence, it becomes difficult for taxpayers who want to extract old ITR records.

The outstanding demands are not visible. Also, it does not provide with the pre-filled salary or other sources data, which were mentioned in the Union budget earlier this year.

Problems are still being faced while filing forms for overseas remittance, i.e., Form 15CA/15CB. Taxpayers are not able to file any rectification and are also not able to see the status of those filed earlier. One is also not able to file the ITR against any reassessment proceedings. Hence, the problems are immense, and the government should consider the option to revert to the old portal, if it is possible.

 

Prakash Hegde, Bengaluru-based chartered accountant

The new income tax portal has been delivered with too many glitches. It has failed to live up to all the hype. Even after 2.5 months, the portal is not stable, many of the functionalities are not enabled and the functionalities enabled are not working up to expectations.

Professionals and taxpayers are wasting enormous amount of time and energy to carry out very simple tasks such as uploading forms or submissions. Due to their helplessness, the frustration of 6.5 crore Indian taxpayers is building up.

The functioning of the old portal was very stable, predictable and smooth. The main reason attributed to the shift from the old portal to the new portal was to cut down the processing time of the returns. However, if the returns cannot be filed on time or other compliance activities cannot be carried out on time due to the issues in the portal, there is no point in expecting a speedier processing of the return. Without a second thought, I would say that we need to return to the old portal.

 

Tarun Kumar, New Delhi-based chartered accountant

Tax professionals have been reporting glitches in the new portal since the start and the portal has failed to stabilize even after more than two months of its launch. Not only is the portal having glitches but many functionalities such as the filing of rectification application and registration of legal heir on behalf of deceased to file the deceased’s return of income have not yet been enabled.

This is delaying the compliances and a lot of man-hours have already been wasted.

Seeing the current situation, tax professionals are in a wait-and-watch mode for the portal to stabilize.

The way the portal is working is causing immense inconvenience to taxpayers as the tax filing deadline is approaching. This is the rush time as the last date of filing personal tax returns is 30 September. Quick redressal is the need of the hour. Either they need to provide the stabilized tax portal immediately or the government may have to extend the deadline to salvage the situation.

The older portal was easy to use and no one had any issues with that portal. The government may also consider restoring the old portal and launch the newer one from 1 April 2022 after proper testing.

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