Taxpayers will soon be relieved of the drudgery of sending their income tax returns by post for verification, as the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is planning to screen them online. The new measure is likely to come into operation this fiscal.

“The e-filing is meant to make tax payment easy. But the compulsory dispatch of documents by post to the Bangalore-based central processing centre of the Income Tax Department or procurement of a digital signature upsets the purpose. Hence, the Income Tax Department has decided to end this practice soon…,” a senior official said.

The plan follows complaints from taxpayers about the meaningless exercise of first filing an e-return and following it up with sending the return by post. The processing centre in Bangalore then sends an electronic response to the taxpayer. There were demands that this system be dispensed with and an easy mechanism put in place. However, in the case of digital signatures, a bona fide statement that verifies the identity of the sender is required to be created by payment of a fee. It needs regular renewal.

In 2012-13, e-filings went up by 31 per cent as 2.14 crore entities filed returns online, against 1.64 crore in 2011-12. Recently, the CBDT made e-filing mandatory for those with an annual income of Rs. 5 lakh or more for the financial year 2012-13 and the assessment year 2013-14. As this category is to file returns online, the Income Tax Department expects a huge increase in the number of online returns.

The department also wants to introduce third-party validation of utilities developed for e-filing to avoid mistakes in returns and make the interpretation of tax laws uniform in their filing.

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