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The income tax department plans to digitize all returns to facilitate faster processing. The department is setting up two dedicated units, which will scan and convert all manual returns into electronic or e-returns within days of filing.
Read these earlier GConnect Article on new income tax Format called Sahaj ITR-1
Officials say it's a misconception harboured by many taxpayers that paper returns are difficult to scrutinize, and hence, there is a better chance of evading tax by filing manual returns.
"It is a myth that paper returns can escape scrutiny while electronic ones can not," said an income tax official on condition of anonymity. "Filing electronic returns will only expedite your refund."
Digitisation would allow the income tax department to match data from different sources, such as tax deducted at source, and facilitate expeditious refunds, the official said.
It would also ensure that records of pending refunds are easily available to senior officials.
"This will help the department improve service to honest taxpayers and nab those who do not file returns or pay their taxes… It will save taxpayers from unnecessary harassment due to a wrong entry," the official said.
At present, information submitted through paper returns is entered separately, which can lead to errors. Digitisation would remove this shortcoming. It would make details of income, taxes and refunds available instantly.
Experts say electronic filing is the way forward.
"E-filing is the way to go, but the government should stick to its promise of faster refunds and better taxpayer services," said Amitabh Singh, partner, Ernst & Young.
As a step towards digitisation, the Central Board of Direct Taxes has issued new income tax return forms this year called 'Sahaj' and 'Sugam'. The department hopes the new forms will facilitate error free digitization.
At present, the Central Processing Centre in Bangalore processes all electronic returns. The income tax department plans to open two new regional processing centres in Pune (Maharashtra) and Manesar (Haryana). The new centres would become operational in a year. The department plans to open another centre in Kolkata later.
These regional centres would have 12 scanning centres at Mumbai , Ahmedabad, Hyderabad , Chennai , Chandigarh , Kanpur , Lucknow , Bhopal , Jaipur , Guwahati , Bhubaneshwar and Patna .
Once the four Central Processing Centres are in place, the income tax department would be able to issue refunds within 30-45 days of filing of returns, the official said.
NEW I-T WING TO TRACK, NAIL OFFENDERS
The government set up a criminal investigation wing in the income tax department to track and prosecute economic offenders, intensifying its drive against black money. The announcement comes barely days ahead of spritual and yoga guru Baba Ramdev's fast unto death against black money and corruption.
The finance ministry has already set up a committee of senior tax officials to examine ways to strengthen laws to curb the generation of black money in the country, its illegal transfer abroad and its recovery and instituted a national study to quantify unaccounted wealth within and outside the country.
"The DCI will perform functions in respect to criminal matters having any financial implication punishable as an offence under any direct tax law," the finance ministry said in a statement here.
Source: The Economic Times