The income tax department on Monday allowed manual filing of certain forms after the new tax filing portal continued to face tech glitches even after a week of its launch.
The I-T department issued a circular allowing manual filing of Form 15CA/15CB (required for foreign remittances) with banks till June 30, so that business transactions may go on.
The forms will be uploaded online on the e-filing portal later, it added.
The new portal, www.incometax.gov.in, was launched last Monday (June 7), with the tax department as well as the government saying it was aimed at making compliance more taxpayer-friendly.
But users complained of technical issues from the very first day and not everything has been fixed even after a week, chartered accountants (CAs) said, adding that taxpayers are unable to view past e-filed returns and many features/ facilities continue to be marked 'coming soon'.
In a statement, the income tax department said, "In view of the difficulties reported by taxpayers in electronic filing of Income Tax Forms 15CA/15CB on the portal www.incometax.gov.in, it has been decided that taxpayers can submit the aforesaid Forms in manual format to the authorised dealers till June 30, 2021." The I-T department also advised authorised dealers to accept such forms till June 30, 2021 for the purpose of foreign remittances.
"A facility will be provided on the new e-filing portal to upload these forms at a later date for the purpose of generation of the Document Identification Number," the statement added.
Any person who needs to make a foreign outward remittance, needs to file an online form/ declaration in Form 15CA specifying nature of transaction and amount of income tax deducted on such foreign remittance.
In certain cases, this Form 15CA is also backed by a chartered accountant's certificate in Form 15CB, who certifies that appropriate income tax has been deducted on such remittance. Such forms (15CA and 15CB) were required to be filled online using income tax e-filing portal.
Nangia & Co LLP Partner Shailesh Kumar said due to shutdown of old e-filing portal post May 31, 2021 and technical snags being faced with the new portal, filing of online Forms 15CA and 15CB has not been possible till now.
"This had created a significant hardship for businesses, which required payment to be made outside India, for placing the orders or for obtaining licenses or meeting their commercial obligations.
"However, banks were not permitting foreign remittance, for want of Form 15CA/15CB. This practical problem had brought many business transactions on a standstill," Kumar said.
Realising the hardships of businesses, the government has issued this circular allowing manual filing of Form 15CA/15CB with banks till June 30, so that business transactions may go on despite the technical snags in new e-filing portal, he added.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman herself had asked Infosys -- the vendor which created the portal -- and its Chairman Nandan Nilekani to fix the technical glitches.
A day after the launch of the portal, social media users had flagged glitches in the new e-filing website to the finance minister.
Following that, Sitharaman took to Twitter and asked Infosys and its chairman to fix the problem.
Replying to the tweet, Nilekani had said Infosys is working to fix the glitches.
Infosys was in 2019 awarded a contract to develop the next-generation income tax filing system to reduce processing time for returns from 63 days to one day and expedite refunds.
Kumar said starting from the struggle to log in to the portal to important features such 'e-proceedings' tabs being unavailable with a message displayed 'coming soon', there is anxiousness among the taxpayers and tax professionals with respect to orders being passed and non-compliance of notices without getting a sufficient opportunity to present a case.
"The taxpayers could face penalty consequences for reasons beyond their control. Also, taxpayers are facing a major challenge for remitting funds abroad as they are unable to issue Form 15CA/ CB.
"Even after one week of going live, the aforesaid are not minor glitches and require immediate attention/ resolution," Kumar said.
The new IT portal, rather than being user-friendly, is turning out to be a nightmare presently, he added.
AMRG & Associates Senior Partner Rajat Mohan said the common issues frequently faced on the portal since last week includes login taking 10-15 minutes, inability to file responses to the assessment notices, data related to past filings not being visible on the portal and e-proceedings module not being fully functional.
"New income tax portal needs to be fixed at the earliest; numerous errors and glitches are causing inconvenience for the taxpayers and tax professionals," Mohan added.
Deloitte India Partner Aarti Raote said the new tax portal has raised expectations from all. However, many who accessed the site felt it was slow and several existing features were also not accessible.
"Users were faced with access and login challenges. The tax department has also indicated that the Digital Signature would need to be re-registered on account of security reasons. Thus benefits of the new portal would be seen when these initial glitches are addressed," Raote added.
Dhruva Advisors LLP Partner Sandeep Bhalla said the classification interface of the new website seems to be user friendly with user manuals for each type of users, but the site itself is pretty slow and takes quite some time for small things like updating of profile.
"A basic thing such as changing password could take several minutes. The various forms required to be filed for lower withholding applications... are difficult to find. The data of earlier rectifications etc filed on the earlier e-portal does not reflect and throws up error message," Bhalla added.
One sometimes wonders on the timing for the new launch when the advance tax timing was round the corner and deadline for completion of assessments is end of the month, which has been extended multiple times only due to pandemic and now timing of this glitch, he said.