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Indian Tax Return Filing AY 2007-08 – An experience

Having been on the internet world for over 15 years, it has become second nature for me to resort doing anything and everything using the net. Searching and acquiring knowledge from making whiteboards, to understanding resonance fundas, to exploring esoteric products from China, to viewing the secrets of the nether world, the internet has become a beast that you can’t live without.. All my bills, banking, travel, some shopping, music,etc all are being done thanks to this wonderful life saver called Internet..

I have often cursed our governments for its inability to understand common man’s problems and do something constructive about it. There are projects running into crores going down drains without any qualm of public accountability.. But sometimes changes do happen and that too for good…

The Land records automation, stamp duty payments and other services are improving.. albeit at a snail’s pace. Tax procedures are the worst.. You just PAY. Period. Don’t ask questions. If you have a refund, forget about it or pray for the divine intervention and benevolence of the assessing officer to let you get back some rightful dues.

Taxes, is one of those things that economies are run upon and tax payers run down over. If a honest guy like me, pay taxes for the common good, why can’t I get my fair share of benefits also?? Anyway, thats a different subject altogether .. Lets talk about the changes visible to the tax payer…

Last year AY 2007-08, the government decided that let us give some ease to the tax filer’s pains and introduced the concept of online tax filing systems.. I could not have been happier.. I am sure the very few of us who do things on our own, will vouch for the fact the serpentine queues at the ITO is not just a nighmare, but a life hazaard as well.. Standing in the rain with bunch of papers in duplicate/triplicate and the general chaos all around, make a perfect recipe for commiting cause-to-harm type of crimes. Its a miracle that people are so damn docile that evn if a truck bounces them over, they probably would say ” Chaltha hai re.. carry on.. Aaj to mere ko tax return file karke hi jaana hai..”

So last year I was thrilled to bits and decided to support the government’s initiatives in this techie area. So I downloaded the various flavors of the “simplified forms”.. First hurdle.. you must have Adobe Reader 8 and above.. Ok so the reader is a standard viewer.. No. No.It must be ver that you can fill pdf forms.. Fine..I grumbled like a whining pig and installed the bloatware software which made my machine slow beyond imagination.. Cribbing aside, I started off on the Marco Polo adventure of navigating through the maze of information and formats.. The instruction sheet were average.. OK. Filled in all the data …. now for the great barcode generation.. trying that option is like the government’s gift.. now you see it now you don’t…Fine.. whatever.. I go ahead generate the xml file..

All looks good.. lets go online.. First, the website looks terrifying.. Surely the guys who manage the NIC supercomputer infrastructure or the crack team of scientific officers of C-DAC would have some iota of web design concepts.. you wonder.. well.. keep wondering.. its good, your brain is thinking.. Mine too did.. Registered the PAN id and made a login.. The next steps were a breeze. Upload XML.. sorry no digital signatures.. and bam your return is filed and then take print of the Acknowledgement Form ITR-V.

Now go to the ITO, and just file it there.. At the ITO its a mess as usual.. the only qualifying factor was that less than 10 people in the whole building knew anything remotely about online filing. After about 15 mins of being shunted around various desks on multiple floors.. I reach the returns’ heaven/haven.. The desk is unattended and there are few bold adventurists like me who did the business online.. The guy merely says ” Just keep the form there and take that stamp and stamp it on your copy and carry on..” I am like “What the F******* are you talking about” All my hard efforts and this is the callous respect my work of art gets!! By now you realize that government and IT officers are the Gods who can mess your entire existence if they get annoyed.. So I put a muffler on my lips and do the stamping and disappear into the metro world..

1 month… 3 month… 6 months… 12 months… Waiting… No refund cometh.. My money got eaten up on account of some math processing logic of the computers running at the supercomputer facility… The online portal has no clue on my refund claim either..

Phew!! That was one experience…. Part 2 .. on Filing in AY 2008-09

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