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E-processing of tax returns at CPC ushers faster refunds for tax payers & considerable saving in interest cost of IT Dept.

                   Information Technology (IT) has indeed weaved wonders for Income Tax (IT)! Your columnist had an occasion to get a feel of this unique feat of the Centralized Processing Centre (CPC) of the IT Department, while participating at the interactions of the strategic All India CPC Workshop, organized at the sprawling state of the art academic campus of Infosys at Mysore.


                   Computerization in the Income-tax Department, which has been increasingly relied upon over the past few years, has paved way for better monitoring of collection of taxes, smarter and more effective tax intelligence through tracking of high value transactions, greater transparency in tax administration through lesser human interface and evolution of more tax friendly systems and procedures over the internet.

                  “Today, an Indian taxpayer can sitting in the comfort of his home or office apply online for PAN or TAN, pay tax, view tax credit, check tax refund and file tax returns, all at his comfort and convenience,” says Shri M. K. Mirani, Director General of Income-tax (DGIT) Systems, New Delhi, who is in overall charge of the planning and execution of the CPC operations. With a deep sense of satisfaction beaming on his face he continues, “Form 26AS, which can be viewed by any taxpayer over the net, affords him a unique facility of viewing the tax credits to his account in respect of TDS, advance tax etc. paid by him and also check details of the specified transactions as per AIR reflected against his PAN. This has become very popular and more and more taxpayers are checking the same with a view to ensure that they get full and correct credit for taxes paid by them or deducted on their account.” Sharing the future vision Shri Mirani remarks, “Soon taxpayers will also be able to view any tax demands outstanding against them as per the Department, which would make 26AS a complete account statement, with a facility to respond online in regard to any erroneous demands requiring correction.”


                      As e-filing has been made mandatory for Companies and all taxpayers attracting compulsory tax audit u/s. 44AB and more and more taxpayers in the optional category are also filing e-returns, it is noteworthy that the CPC which was dedicated to the nation in May, 2010, has made rapid progress in its services during a short span. The number of registered users for e-filing as on 31st December, 2011 crossed 1.73 crores and the number of tax returns processed until that date was nearly 1.6 crores.

                     It is heartening that amongst the Indian taxpayers, Gujus both savour and favour e-filing. Says Shri M. D. Kabra, Chief Commissioner of Income-tax, Gujarat, with a big smile on his face, “While in terms of absolute numbers, Maharashtra ranks first in the country with the filing of 24.14 lakh e-returns in the current F.Y. 2011-12 (upto 31/12/2011) and Gujarat ranks second with 13.10 lakh e-returns, when it comes to comparing the e-return to population ratio, Gujarat tops at No.1 with a ratio of 2.16%. This aptly reflects the great awareness of the Gujarati taxpayers, for which they are well known,” quips Shri Kabra.


                    The systems reforms have infact resulted in a win-win situation both for the taxpayers, as well as the I.T. Department. Commissioner CPC, Bangalore, Shri Sanjai Verma, remarks with a great feel of fulfillment, “CPC has now achieved a peak processing capacity of more than 1.5 Lakhs returns /day. This has helped us in reducing the average processing time of an income-tax return to 41 days, thus ensuring faster tax refunds for taxpayers. Earlier, taxpayers used talk about the time for receiving refunds in terms of months, now it is just weeks.”

                    Figures speak that over 47.14 lakh tax refunds totaling to Rs. 13,458 crores have been issued without any manual intervention though the CPC processing, effectively checking corruption and malpractices on this font. As a result of the faster processing of tax refunds, the interest rate as a percentage of refund, in respect of the interest payable by the Department on tax refunds, has also come down to just around 2.6% in FY 2011-12, as compared to 11% (which was nearly four times) in FY 2008-09. This alone has accounted in interest savings of 875 cores to the I.T. Department in the last two fiscal years.


                    However, there have been a number of practical problems and difficulties too, in the operational areas of e-filing and processing of tax returns. Amdavadi taxpayers can seize opportunity speak out, when the trio of DGIT (Systems), New Delhi, Chief CIT, Gujarat and CIT, CPC, Bangalore, meet together to deliberate and resolve such issues at the ‘Open House & Interactive Session’ organised at AMA auditorium, at 4pm on Thursday, 1st March. Readers may also mail their feedback or suggestions in this regard to your columnist, who will be pleased to voice them across at this key meet

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