Tax filing service providers do brisk biz amid glitches in IT site

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Taxpayer service providers are seeing brisk business this season, as glitches in the government’s electronic tax filing portal prompt many to seek their services.

HostBooks Ltd, a company that supports small businesses and professionals, said that there is a 30-40% jump in new customers from a year ago.

Its founder-chairman, Kapil Rana, said that the company launched a simpler and more convenient format for filing IT return forms one to four (ITR 1-4) in April, allowing automatic calculations wherever possible to make things easier for users.

Fintech firm Clear (formerly Cleartax) said it is witnessing a sharp increase in the number of assessees getting their tax filing done through chartered accountants and tax experts this year.

The increase in tax filings through professionals in the company’s platform Taxcloud, meant for tax consultants and chartered accountants for filing their clients’ income tax returns, is three times this year from the year-ago period.

The company said there is also a 45% increase in chartered accountant and tax expert sign-ups this year.

It has tax professionals from 623 districts on its platform.

“Tax experts have completely changed their work tools due to covid-19. Chartered accountancy firms were perceived as non-tech-savvy dinosaurs by many. That is just not true. Chartered accountants are voting for cloud-based technology across India,” said Archit Gupta, founder and chief executive officer of Clear.

He said Chartered accountants are using the company’s cloud platform to collaborate with clients and employees who work remotely, especially from their hometowns.

Many people choose taxpayer service providers to quickly assess which personal tax regime is most attractive for them, using the facilities they offer.

The Finance Act 2020 had introduced a new alternative regime with a lower tax rate without the benefit of tax deductions to individuals.

This gives the flexibility to individuals to choose between the two regimes depending on whether they are in a position to make use of investment incentives and deductions.

Emails sent to the finance ministry and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) seeking comments for the story remained unanswered at the time of publishing.

CBDT said that several glitches on the e-filing portal of the income tax department had been resolved, and the portal’s performance has substantially stabilized.

The portal has received more than 20 million income tax returns as of 13 October, CBDT said.

The new tax filing portal—www.incometax.gov.in—launched on 7 June embarrassed the government after glitches and difficulties in its functioning.

The finance ministry asked the leadership of the project developer, Infosys Ltd, to ensure that the portal does not let down taxpayers in service quality.

Once fully streamlined, the tax portal could be a game-changer in offering taxpayers an enhanced and intuitive user experience.

It was developed on mission mode as part of the administration’s e-governance plan.

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