Chartered accountants are reporting that taxpayers are shocked and struggling to calculate their income tax returns due to the missing data, which is a major setback for them.
As the income tax-filing deadline approaches in just six weeks, tax professionals and individuals are working against the clock to submit their returns before the July 31, 2023 deadline. However, a technical glitch is causing delays and making the process more time-consuming.
To make filing tax returns easier, the income tax returns included the pre-filled information about the taxes paid in advance or deducted by an employer, bank, tenant, or other organizations. This information was based on the available data linked to a person’s permanent account number (PAN). Taxpayers only needed to verify the details and provide any additional missing information to complete the tax return filing process.
Unfortunately, the current tax-return forms for assessment year 2023-24 (covering income earned in the financial year 2022-23) are lacking a crucial feature. Specifically, the downloaded forms do not display the information about advance tax payments. As a consequence, the software utilities on the income tax website are unable to automatically populate the section for advance tax paid. Karan Batra, co-founder of CharteredClub.com, has highlighted this issue.
This is a major change and makes ITR filing a tedious task, say chartered accountants.
According to another chartered accountant based in Gurgaon, there has been a change in the process. Previously, they could retrieve the necessary details from the tax statement without relying on the taxpayer to provide the information. However, now they have to specifically ask the taxpayer for the details and manually input them. This can cause delays as sometimes the client is unaware and needs time to find and share the required information.
Chartered accountants have reported that the pre-filled income tax data is not being retrieved accurately, requiring significant manual intervention. Karan Batra further mentioned that in certain instances, data from advance tax payments for two different financial years were combined in Form 26AS. Form 26AS is a statement that consolidates all the tax payments made or deductions done by banks and other organizations linked to an individual’s permanent account number (PAN).
According to Batra, there was a situation where the advance tax paid for the financial year 2022-23 and the current financial year were combined in the client’s Form 26AS. This merging of entries makes it challenging to verify the information when there are no separate entries.
Out of the total 41.6 lakh income tax returns filed for assessment year 2023-24, some chartered accountants have not yet started filing returns due to previous issues encountered with early-filed returns. Last year, approximately 6.73 crore income tax returns were filed for assessment year 2022-23.
According to a tax advisory partner based in Mumbai, there are instances where the data in Form 26AS is missing and the software utilities file is not released, despite the income tax return forms being available since April 2023. Usually, taxpayers only have a month to file their income tax returns, although technically there is a three-month window mentioned.
In June 2021, the income tax portal underwent a significant change, but it faced numerous glitches. Several chartered accountants contacted by moneycontrol.com expressed their frustration over the inability to retrieve the tax paid data. However, one chartered accountant mentioned that it is possible the information is now located in a different section. According to Mehul Sheth, a chartered accountant, “They have changed the location of advance tax data this year.”
It is yet to be determined whether the format of Form 26AS data has been altered or if the problems with automatically populating tax-paid details in returns are caused by software issues on the income tax portal.
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