It seems that the government departments are over enthusiastic about introduction of new ideas without doing the proper groundwork. In fact, they are making mockery of their master; the taxpayer.
Some of the instances of such mockery are-
1) ITRs have become year specific. There are minor changes that are made in the ITRs every year. But, while the notification of new ITR Forms was issued in March itself; the income tax department seems to be not ready to accept the returns for the year even after the end of April. As on 30th April there was neither government software nor return acceptance link active on the income tax website. In fact, the software must be ready on 31st March itself and 1st April itself the returns should be accepted online. How can you waste a complete month yourself and expect the taxpayers to adhere to the dates prescribed by you?
2) On the TDS front there is complete chaos. New rules are notified; forms are notified; but the schema for new forms is not available on 30th April. The TDS for the month of April needs to be deposited on or before 7th May but there is no facility to pay the tax. If, the taxpayer is unable to deposit the TDS within the specified time; may be due to his genuine problems; the expenditure is disallowed by the Income Tax Department; and the department itself is not clear what it wants to achieve through these cumbersome processes. If it is not geared up to accept the challans through online mode; I don't know what was the reason for which hurried decision was made for making mandatory E-payment scheme applicable from 1st April 2009 itself.
3) While making the E-payment mandatory has the government looked into other problems that it is creating through such rules: - Some of these are-
a) In rural India; most of the taxpayers neither have internet connectivity; nor there is guaranteed power supply. I think that the officers in the Finance Ministry should come out of their Air conditioned cabins and think about the ground realities before making any such scheme widely applicable
b) Are the government departments; which have the most chaotic system of TDS wherein their TDS certificates are almost always incomplete and never match with the ITD records; really geared up to accept the new mode of payment and compliance? If you yourself are not ready to comply with the new scheme how you can make poor taxpayer scapegoat of your new experiments.
c) The co operative societies are not at all ready to comply with these provisions; first of all they are not allowed to open any account out of the District Central Co Operative Banks; in this situation; how are they going to make E Payment? If they want to make the payment through net banking accounts; think of the situation that may arise in the rural cooperatives where the directors and the staff are always ready to exploit the society in this or that way. In these societies who would possess the internet banking passwords? Who can be held to be responsible for any loss that may (and will definitely) arise to the society? If these societies make payment through the accounts of other people; think of the excessive paperwork that this third person would be required to make? Do you think that this work would be done without any charges by any of the consultant?
4) Further, there is complete confusion about UTN. Nobody; even in the government; is clear about the concept. If UTN is applicable for the TDS Payments on or after 1st April, 2009; what is the UTN column doing in the ITR for A Y 2009-10?
I think either their are fools sitting in the Finance Ministry or they are highly intellectual people who just want to taste the patience of the taxpayers by making mockery of the taxpayers. In this; they forget that their bread and butter is earned only because taxpayers are paying the taxes.
CA Mahesh Mundada