The tax portal glitches highlight deficiencies in the process of awarding e-governance contracts
It is most unflattering to see a country that corners 55 per cent of all information technology contracts outsourced world-wide struggle to crack the code on a simple tax filing portal for its citizens. After grappling with GST Network’s idiosyncrasies for the last four years, India’s taxpayers are now having to wrestle with the newly revamped portal for income tax filings developed by software giant Infosys. From the very first day of its unveiling on June 7, users have complained of issues with logging in, generating OTPs and passwords and e-verifying returns, apart from calculation errors and incorrect capture of data from Form 16 and in Form 26AS, all of which has made tax filings for this year a tortuous process. Meetings between the Centre and Infosys have proved to be of limited avail. Ironically, the very purpose of revamping the portal was to improve its friendliness and functionality. The issue has since escalated with the Centre ‘summoning’ Infosys’ CEO for an explanation and senior software czars critiquing the poor economics of government contracts.
For projects such as the income tax e-filing portal that impacts crores of users, the Centre must insist on multiple trial runs before the project goes live and allow both the old and revamped versions to co-exist for some time, so that users have an easy transition. It is still not too late to try out this solution with the income tax portal, while acceding to legitimate demands from taxpayers for extending its IT return filing deadlines.