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Experts decode glitches in income tax e-filing portal

Infosys CEO Salil Parekh met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman again today

income-tax-website-e-filing A screenshot of the new e-filing portal of the Income Tax Department

Even as Infosys CEO Salil Parekh explains to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as to why the IT bellwether has not been able to resolve the glitches on the new e-filing portal even after 2.5 months ever since it was launched, experts and users with whom THE WEEK spoke to say that it is becoming challenging to access and file returns smoothly on the portal. They feel that there are stability issues with the portal and may take time to resolve though Infosys has, repeatedly, maintained that they will resolve the issues and glitches at the earliest.

Venkatesh K., a Bengaluru-based advocate and tax consultant, says that even after filing the ITR on the portal, it is not downloading the acknowledgement properly, plus it is also not verifying the Aadhaar number properly. “The portal is not connecting properly and is not disclosing ITR submission. Besides this many other options such as refund grievance, pending income tax due are not enabled and functioning properly on the portal,” Venkatesh told THE WEEK.

A tax expert, who preferred anonymity, said that the new portal had multiple issues that include slow page responsiveness, load-time error and its User Interface (UI) was not designed well. At the same time, experts cannot file regular tax forms (non-ITR) on the portal.

“Due to the complexity of taxation and fine tuning of user experiences, there will be bugs and issues. The portal may take as much as one year to become stable as even the GST portal issues took three to four years to resolve. This had led to a delay in revenue collections due to deadline extensions. There could be backlash from crores of Indian taxpayers due to portal issues. User traffic will be 100 times more during tax deadlines and customer grievances could skyrocket,” said this expert.

He adds that in order to resolve the issues, the government could redesign the portal and have a fast portal that works well even on low-speed internet or poor connectivity. “The portal could also have page speed optimisation for tax filing in India and can create configurable UI for different ITR forms and assessment years,” he added.

Some point out that Infosys should work on a priority basis as they are dealing with critical and information pertaining to crores of citizens. “There have been glitches that have been reported such as the date was reflected wrongly, Vivad se vishwas forms were not being available, Form 35 not being able to be filed and even if a return is filed with a refund, the acknowledgment of the same is not available etc. I would not squarely blame Infosys here but they cannot walk away scot-free as well. We are dealing with people here and crores of them are accessing the portal and the platform. Imagine the man hours lost trying to do this,” said Sathya Pramod, CEO Kayess Square Consulting Private Limited.

He points out that working with the government is a different ball game as one needs to work with archaic systems like the current L1 system which awards the work to the lowest bidder. “How can a technology system which needs to be world class be evaluated only on terms of price. When a company quotes lower, they cannot work on negative margins which means the quality of resources need not be the best. It just starts there and quality for sure is compromised. However, for a company like Infosys, this should have been a matter of pride and they have served the biggest companies in the world. It is a matter of deep regret that the situation has come to this state. I hope the best people are put on the job to ensure such defaults do not occur again,” Pramod added.

Experts such as Sudin Baraokar, a global IT and innovation adviser, observes that engineering and development of mission critical systems and services must align to scalability and performance factors. “Typically, focus must be on key parameters like TPS (transactions per second), number of concurrent users and compute, network, storage available on demand with active scalability. 'Technical Debt' if not managed can have catastrophic consequences on mission critical systems,” said Baraokar.


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