After helping the Ministry of Corporate Affairs reap rich rewards of digitization through the mission-mode MCA 21 programme and after having revamped the Indian Passport office through the unique Passport Seva Project, both key achievements of far-reaching impact among several sterling e-governance breakthroughs, IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has successfully managed yet another feat – the end to end transformation of the e-filing portal (https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/) which has seen as many as 1.5 million returns being filed per day during the last four days of the crucial month of August with about 3000 e-filings recorded per minute. Kudos to the team led by Tanmoy Chakraborty, the highly competent VP and Global Head – Government Business, TCS.
Having said that, one particular interpretation – whether of the government or TCs, we do not know - deserves a closer scrutiny. It attributes the ‘more time spent on the portal for e-verification’ to tax payers’ insistence on completing the process on the same day. This, we believe, is a convenient conclusion.
Actually, the real reason for the fixation with verification could well be the lack of proper notification in the ‘e-verify’ process. Once the tax payer goes about generating EVC through Netbanking, he/she is directed to a page which flashes a four step process along with a small note (most likely to be ignored by lay users)
“Once you click on Continue you will be logged out of e-Filing portal and will be redirected to a page where you can select the bank through which you would like to go for Net Banking.”
Most users, post clicking ‘Continue’, are clueless as to the next step. All they see is a list of banks for the log in but, having missed the earlier instruction are found staring at their screens, wondering what they did right or wrong.
Most abandon the process midway and it takes quite some time for the supreme realization to dawn – either self-sprung or gained through friends and associates – that one needs to log into the respective bank and click on the Tax services link, proceed to the income tax e-fling link and complete the verification, a progression that seems simple but only in hindsight.
To add to the confusion is an alternative option of e-verifying through the elusive Aadhar route which in most cases flashes an “authentication failed” message owing to a possible data mismatch in Tax and Aaadhar databases. And many don’t know what to do with the EVC code sitting in their mail inbox which comes with a validity of 72 hours. For most, the bewilderment exceeds that time frame.
The whole ‘e-verify’ process can be made more user-friendly if there’s a proper notification at the most appropriate juncture that guides the hapless lay user to fruition. The e-verify glitch, though certainly not the Achilles heels for the exceptionally robust system, can certainly be weeded out, given that it’s causing needless perplexment for users.