Paying Income Tax Online- A Boon or Bane

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A majority of salaried individuals tend to get worried when they see the TDS deduction on their pay slip and most wish that taxes were lower. This year the government seems to have heard this vast majority as the lowest income tax rate was effectively halved from the earlier 10% to 5%. But it is easy to forget that it’s not just the salaried individuals that have to worry about paying income tax as even self employed as well as corporations are liable to pay income tax. Through the years, various changes have been introduced in the way taxes are calculated, collected and paid, so let’s see if these changes including paying income tax online have been a boon or a bane for the stakeholders.   

Fewer Paper Documents

The pinnacle of achievement for a digital society, according to many thought leaders, is a paperless existence. We in India might not be there yet, but with the introduction of the online income tax payment system, the submission of paper documents has definitely been eliminated to a large extent. In the past, everything required a paper submission and copies of these had to be stored carefully by the tax payer for up to 5 years in case there was an audit requirement. Moreover, when submitting these documents to the Income Tax Department, a prescribed order had to be followed and in case of a mistake, the papers often had to be filed anew. Thankfully these problems are in the past if you have been paying or have started paying your income tax online. The online system does not need any reordering of papers and in case you make a mistake while filling out the form, the error will get marked automatically allowing you to make the changes immediately. Additionally, rectifications and re-submissions too are a breeze as new documents just need to be submitted as scanned copies if required by the IT Department and not otherwise.

Quicker Turnaround

When paper documents are submitted, they have to be verified one at a time by hand and this requires a lot of time and effort. The online system uses interlinked databases like TRACES that automatically check the tax payer’s entries by running it through multiple databases simultaneously without any human intervention. The system automatically flags errors/mistakes/mismatching data based on the entries available on the various interlinked databases vs. the forms submitted by the income tax assessee. In case an error is detected by the system and the submission is flagged, the form is checked manually. Thus the system of paying income tax online saves time and there is lesser scope of errors creeping into the process.

Cheaper Cost of Collecting Tax

The old system of collecting taxes often required multiple tax collectors knocking on the tax payer’s door or sending out multiple notices to make errant individuals pay their taxes. Then there was the paperwork that had to be sorted through sometimes more than once to ensure that everything was in order. This required not just time but also an army of clerks, assistants, paper pushers, stenographers and so on. For the government especially the IT department, this was a problem because all these employees had to be paid out of the government’s coffers and thus the efficiency of income tax collection was quite low in the pre-digital age. When a tax assessee pays his/her income tax online, it no longer requires such a large workforce to corroborate these requirements due to the higher levels of automation that the online system provides.

Conclusion: Definitely a Boon

From the above points it is easy to conclude that the introduction of the system that allows individuals to pay income tax online is nothing short of godsend. The system is indeed a boon for both tax payer and the collection agency.  Furthermore, the system will work even better as it gets even more streamlined in the future with the introduction of more efficient systems and technologies.

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