I-T department to send OTP, include Aadhaar to ease taxpayer e-filing

Taxpayers will soon get relief from sending a paper aPeecknowledgement of their e-filed return as Income Tax department is set to introduce a new customer verification system for the task by sending One Time Passwords, validating net banking identity and enrolling Aadhaar number in the returns form.

New e-filing norms. AFP

The I-T department, through its policy making body Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), has decided to
completely do away with the “cumbersome” procedure undertaken currently by a taxpayer to send his ITR-V (Verification) form to the department’s Central Processing Centre (CPC) based in Bangalore through post.

“We are fastly moving towards a regime where the taxpayer will not have to send the paper acknowledgement of the ITR-V (Income Tax Return Verification).

“We want to make e-filing completely hassle-free and easy for taxpayers,” CPC Director and I-T Commissioner RK Mishra told a group of visiting journalists in New Delhi.

A number of taxpayers have complained to the department that despite they sending the hard copy of ITR-V by “speed or registered post” their forms were being acknowledged by the CPC as “not received” and hence the department, for long, has been looking at options to do away with this system altogether.

The CPC Director said the department has already submitted a blueprint for introducing these new measures to the CBDT and these will be implemented very soon.

In order to ensure another layer of security and authenticity to the e-filed I-T returns, the officer said, the return forms will have a new column for mentioning the unique Aadhaar number of the taxpayer.

“Last year, we introduced a new column in the ITR where taxpayers had to share their personal mobile numbers and email ids. That exercise has given us good results and taxpayers have benefitted as we could promptly inform them about their tax issues.

“Aadhaar will not only add to the security of the ITR but also give it a unique and distinct identity,” he said adding however, it was “not” mandatory.

As per existing rules, a person who files his or her tax return online, has to send a copy of the ITR-V to CPC within 120 days for processing of the return.

“We have made some categories in this regard (for stopping ITR-V totally). Like in case of low-risk category of taxpayers like salaried class we will send a One Time Password (OTP) on their mobile phone to authenticate their e-return.

“In case of high risk category of taxpayers like corporate and big entities we can ask them to do it through their net banking accounts which are already vetted and cleared by respective banks,” he said.

We hope, Mishra said, to put all these measures in place before the upcoming tax filing season.

The CPC Director Mishra said, the CBDT, in October last year had amended the provisions of the I-T Act and made it easy for the department to undertake these new methods for “validation” of e-returns.

“We were thinking about bringing in a regime of electronic signatures which are also valid under the law of the land.

“We understand asking normal taxpayers to get digital signatures is going to cost the taxpayer some money and trouble. Hence, we got the new protocols of OTP, net banking and Aadhaar inclusion done.These all are electronic signatures of a customer which hold legal validity,” he said.

At CPC, a senior officer working here said, the aim is to reduce the workload on junior staff of the I-T department who could concentrate their energies in undertaking other mandates of the department which is to curb tax evasion and widen the tax base.

“When we take care of I-T returns at CPC and subsequently the refunds and other issues, our officers on the field have an opportunity to deploy their energies on other tasks,” the officer said.

Mishra said the CPC, till now, has received 3 crore e-returns and by 31 March the numbers are expected to touch an all-time high of 3.2 crore.

“We want to urge taxpayers to take up more and more e-filing as it enables the I-T department to quickly address their issues related to refunds, grievances and returns mis-match,” he said.

E-filing of I-T returns is mandatory for those taxpayers whose annual income is Rs 5 lakh or more. However, people below this income bracket can also file e-returns.

“Seventy-five percent of those who are not supposed to file e-returns have done so and this is what encourages us,” Mishra said.

The official e-filing portal of the department has also introduced a new link which enables taxpayers to get a redressal of their grievances in five days time.

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