Online handling of taxpayers is a good idea
The income tax department is finally moving towards a system which could allow taxpayers to keep a tab on their tax payments, tax due and refunds online through tax e-passbooks. In simple terms, managing income tax liability would become as simple as managing individual bank accounts—the only difference would be that transactions would not be possible on this platform, but that, in any case, can be done through registered bank accounts. The taxman will give all the information that it has about the taxpayer in the passbook which can be accessed by logging-in to the account. For about 3.5 crore taxpayers, of which the income tax department estimates suggest 3 crore would be filing their I-T returns electronically this year, this would be a big relief.
A lot of ground work has already been done for this and individual taxpayers, even now, can login to their accounts on the income tax department portal and see their tax payments and returns filed. This has to be scaled up to the next level now and that is what the department seems to be doing. The finance ministry said on Friday that the income tax department is developing a dedicated module on the e-filing portal which will give details of returns not filed, returns not submitted and tax demand not paid to the individual taxpayer. And the taxpayers would be able to post their comments so that the issues could be resolved without going into the hassles of tax notices and scrutiny. Given the success achieved in collecting taxes by issuing just reminding letters to 2.45 lakh people from the selected list of those who had made high-value transactions but have not filed returns, the enthusiasm and urgency towards setting up a non-intrusive system is but natural. Responding to the exercise, 3.44 lakh people have filed returns, and have also paid R577 crore self-assessment tax and advance tax of R408 crore. As the plan now is to cover all the non-filers, doing it online would make it simpler and easier. Those not responding can always be tackled through letters and other ways available.