Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday conveyed to Infosys CEO Salil Parekh in no uncertain terms the government's deep disappointment and concern over the continuing glitches in the new income tax filing portal and set September 15 as the deadline for the software major to resolve all snags.
A statement issued by the Income Tax Department said that during the meeting the finance minister emphasised that there is a need for putting in more resources and efforts on the part of Infosys so that the much delayed delivery of agreed services is ensured.
"Hon'ble Finance Minister demanded that the issues faced by taxpayers on current functionalities of the portal should be resolved by the team by 15th September 2021 so that taxpayers and professionals can work seamlessly on the portal," the I-T department said in a statement after the meeting.
Sitharaman, the statement said, conveyed "the deep disappointment and concerns of the government and the taxpayers" about the continuing glitches in the e-filing portal.
"She sought an explanation from Infosys for the repeated issues faced by taxpayers," it added.
During the meeting, Parekh was also sensitised on the difficulties that the taxpayers were facing and the problems that are arising on account of the delays in the functioning of the portal.
"Parekh explained that he and his team are doing everything to ensure the smooth functioning of the portal. Further, he said, over 750 team members are working on this project and Pravin Rao, COO of Infosys, is personally overseeing this project. He also assured that Infosys is working expeditiously to ensure a glitch-free experience to the taxpayers on the portal," the statement added.
The portal, which went live on June 7, was not accessible on August 21 and 22 till late evening. It came back after what the tech major described was an "emergency maintenance".
This is the second time that Sitharaman has met the Infosys team over the issue. She had on June 22 met Parekh and Rao.
Infosys was awarded the Rs 4,242 crore contract in 2019 to develop the new portal. The project was aimed at developing the next-generation income tax filing system to reduce processing time for returns from 63 days to one day and also expedite refunds. Between January 2019 to June 2021, the government has paid Rs 164.5 crore to Infosys for developing the portal.
The new income tax e-filing portal ''www.incometax.gov.in'', however, faced tech glitches from day one with users complaining that certain functionalities were either unavailable or working slow.
Consequently, the I-T department had to allow the manual filing of remittance forms and also extend due dates for electronic filing of forms related to intimation by pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi in a tweet said it's "been two months since the IT portal was launched and yet no resolution has been found to resolve the problems. How does summoning & castigating the CEO become PR material for finance ministry? Nothing but a mighty embarrassment for a country talking of Aatmanirbhar & Digital Bharat".
PHDCCI Chair Direct Tax Committee Mukul Bagla said India has around 7 crore persons or entities who file their income tax returns. Due to glitches in the income tax portal, their day to day functioning has been adversely affected since June 7.
Taxpayers are unable to download documents filed earlier with the income tax department or file their income tax returns for ay 2021-22 if they opt for new rates u/s 115BAC. The assessee is not able to file returns pursuant to notice u/s 148, file reply to penalty proceedings etc. Many other important tax functions have been affected, he said.
"In the absence of a fully functional income tax portal, either we suspend all income tax proceedings till it is functional and further extend due dates of filing ITR, otherwise the life of the tax payer as well as the tax professional is very miserable," Bagla added.