The income tax portal remains CA’s worst nightmare; But for the government, ‘Everything is fine’

While the Union government claims that nearly 5.89 crore of income tax returns (ITRs) have been filed on the new e-filing portal as of December 31, 2021, the website, developed and maintained by Infosys Ltd, continues to frustrate taxpayers and approved accounts (CAs). from across the country. Many competent authorities argue that their plea, which was rejected by the finance ministry, did not seek an extension of the deadline for the electronic filing of returns, but rather sought to remedy the problem with the electronic filing portal. Many of them express their frustration on social media.

In a hard-hitting letter last month to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the Association of Chartered Accountants of Surat, said: “… if the contract was awarded in January 2019, then even after 36 months, the new portal presents brainless design with various drop-down menus, buttons and notifications missing, main database frequently loses data from various forms filed by stakeholders, migrated data from digital signatures is totally lost, after which stakeholders have went to great lengths to rebuild the database with digital signature mappings and the overall website developed is pathetic and unhappy.

“During these three years, the IT department and the hired agency did not take the development task seriously and instead developed a quality portal that can be developed even by college students in their summer projects. This shows either a significant cost reduction on the part of the agency in the development and implementation part, or an imperfect requirement with a wavering mindset provided by IT managers to the development agency, ”says the company. letter.

To date, the ministry has granted numerous extensions to Infosys to address issues facing taxpayers and CAs. In fact, in August 2021, FM Sitharaman even summoned the Managing Director (MD) and CEO (CEO) of Infosys, Salil Parekh, over persistent issues on the new e-filing IT portal.

Even in July last year, the finance minister tagged Infosys, which runs the new portal and the company’s co-founder, Nandan Nilekani, urging them to ensure that the new e-filing IT portal doesn’t leave fall off the taxpayers. She had called on them to urgently correct the problems with the new electronic electronic filing website and called for easing compliance for taxpayers sooner to be a priority.

However, while Finance Secretary Tarun Bajaj claims the RTI filing is going smoothly, those doing the actual work are somewhat frustrated with the portal.

“… it is rather shameful that stakeholders are at the mercy of failing technology and are working day and night for futile exercises like registering and re-registering on the new portal, updating details , digital signatures and missing items. documents … We reiterate that most tax professionals and their staff have developed hypertension, insomnia, diabetes, liver and heart disease due to their sedentary work environment. Similar is the condition of employees of customer staff. People are held hostage in a cyber world with ransom in the form of late fees and interest and the threat of a penalty or prosecution. No other word describes the situation better than the term “fiscal terrorism”, ”says the CA Association of Surat.

“While we do not require any extension of the deadline for filing ITRs, given the current situation, the IT portal should be fully functional and problem-free and IT should not impose any penalties, late fees and interest charges to taxpayers until that happens, ”said the Association, while filing its nine demands.

Their demands include the complete waiver of penalties, interest and late fees, the excuse for the delay in filing various statutory forms, immunity from any monetary or other consequences, the establishment of a committee of grievance resolution, alternative facilitation, streamlining of the tendering process, setting liability, streamlining due dates and legal framework for the Citizen’s Charter.

The Association in its letter also mentions a response received under the Right to Information Act (RTI). RTI’s response shows that based on a preliminary assessment, Infosys was awarded the contract for the new IT portal for its bid of Rs 3,300 crore in January 2019. The sanctioned amount for the work is Rs 4,242 crore, which is the maximum amount that the IT department can spend. The actual cost of the project is not disclosed and is based on the work performed. The scope of work is only accessible to bidders and is confidential, states RTI’s response.

“… in today’s era of rapid and rapid development and deployment, such a huge gestation period to implement a stable website is also highly questionable and suspect. This is especially the case when the above RTI specifies that there is a mechanism to impose a penalty on the development agency, but no penalty has been imposed to date. Why has no responsibility been placed on government officials or the agency responsible for the heckling caused by indecision or lack of understanding from staff, causing greater damage and hardship to the people, the Treasury and to the nation as a whole? »Asks the CA association of Surat.

In 2019, Infosys, headquartered in Bengaluru, was awarded the contract to develop the next-generation income tax filing system to reduce filing processing time from 63 days to one day and speed up refunds.

Infosys had also developed the government’s GST Network (GSTN) portal, used for paying and filing GST (Goods and Services Tax) returns. It will be recalled that Infosys was the subject of scathing criticism in July 2017 for similar problems on the GST website.

Here is the copy of the letter sent by the Association of Chartered Accountants, Surat.

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