E-Initiatives by CBDT – Step towards Taxpayer Friendly administration

Introduction

We all know that  today we live in an e-society where people survive on various e-terms such as e-mail, e-commerce, e-booking systems, e-banking, e-insurance and the latest being e-nivaaran by the CBDT. In such a scenario, the migration of CBDT from the traditional means to the e-ways is really an appreciable step. This dynamic approach of adapting with the latest technology is one of the most appreciable features reflected in the journey of CBDT over the past 150 years.

Basics of CBDT

As a layman, a huge majority has an impression that the term CBDT is a synonym for the Income Tax Department but constitutionally CBDT – The Central Board of Direct Taxes is the governing body of the income tax department. CBDT is a huge banyan tree which has wide spread branches that covers components prior to ITR such as Application for TAN/PAN as well as post filing of returns in various arenas such as processing of the Income Tax Returns, Appeals against order, Grievance Submission and redressal mechanism etc.

E-Initiatives by CBDT

We all know that the CBDT has come up with various one-of-its kind initiatives over the past decade that has made a huge impact on our lives. If the same is taken up in a procedural manner compliance can be made better and there can be reduction in paper work also. Here I would quote the example of services like PAN/TAN. We all know that CBDT has provided ONLINE PAN/TAN facilities making it easier to acquire a PAN/TAN for everyone without much hassle and paper work.

The idea of E-FILING OF INCOME TAX RETURN has been an immense success. I guess at the time of implementing the same even CBDT never had an idea of the quantum of success that it would achieve. Today as we move in and out of our offices, I wonder if any one of us could even imagine

  1. filing physical returns,
  2. Standing in long queue due to huge rush on due dates while submission

Initially we had to e-file our return as well as send the signed copy to the department but now a days the department has added a cherry to the cake with the introduction of E-VERIFICATION of the e-filed Income tax returns and thereby promoting the eco-friendly practice by reducing paper consumption. Further now returns can be e-verified even in the absence of a Aadhar Card / Bank account.It is such a huge relief as many questions of the return filers have been addressed such as will the return reach the ITD on time, have all the returns filed by the consultant dispatched, no probability of forged signatures etc.

Further permitting E-PAYMENT of Direct Taxes has been warmly welcomed as any assessee can now easily pay the taxes online and have the Challan and details on the same day and at the instant moment ensuring that the tax payments are made well within the prescribed time-line.

Further comes the phase of processing of the returns. Previously the assessee was never aware about the orders passed by the Department or the status of his compliance/returns filed and other data with the ITD database due to various reasons such as non-transparency, non-receipt of the notice, cases being tackled by the Ld .AR entirely on their on notion etc. The receipt of various orders and intimations through E-MAIL has ensured that majority of the previous concerns stand addressed.Further allotment of official mail ids to all the ITO’s and the CIT’s by the CBDT is just like the addition of a new feather in the cap of the CBDT as these mail ID’s are not only allotted but also  operational and can be used to communicate with the Department on an effective note.

Even appeals can now be filed on a paperless mode. Though the same was launched as a pilot project, to which even Ahmedabad was a part, has not gained much popularity and utility due to various factors, I am hopeful that it shall soon improve and prove its true worth.

All this was are the benefits that various class of the assesses such as resident, corporate and non-residents shall derive. Other major initiatives include a fully functional and duly updated website which serves various information such as Latest Schemes launched by the department. For E.g. Income Disclosure Scheme, Direct Tax Treaties, Acts, Circulars, and Notifications etc. Over and above this, it has various other features also such as Tax Calculator, Tax Charts & Tables etc.

Social Impact

Analyzing the social impacts of the same, there are quite a few astonishing observations that I presume people here would consider on a mature level. Previously female employees dreaded working with the ITD due to rude behavior and other obvious reasons but credit goes to the CBDT that due to e-initiatives the scenarios have changed, corruption has been reduced and the computer and internet literacy has increased thereby making our country more developed and tech-savvy. Further it is now that the website of CBDT has features similar to the websites of CRA viz Canada Revenue Agency Internal Revenue System of USA or Inland Revenue System of Singapore.

Wrapping Up

Every coin has two sides and so does the E-initiative by CBDT. It is not that CBDT has all these facilities functional many of the links on the website are broken links. A major challenge is also to train the Departmental Officers and make them web-literate. Due to diversity in regional languages making any single language a mode of communication is a huge challenge. But it is well said that “CHANGE COMES ONLY TO IMPERFECTION” and so appreciating all the positivity and development that CBDT has brought in the society we await the change and conclude that the best which is yet to come, shall be welcomed with warm embrace by us all.

Contributed by Heer Gajjar, Tax Solutions Executive, KCJM and presented at ICAI, Ahmedabad

Heer

You can reach out to her at support@kcjm.in

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