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Filed your I-T return at post office, then wait for refund
November, 01st 2006

If you are among the 47,000 assessees who have filed income tax (I-T) returns at post offices, then there is a bad news for you. Your wait for refund would be really long, as I-T officers have decided not to process the returns that were submitted to the post offices.

The (47,000) returns filed in Mumbai post offices reached Aaykar Bhavan, the head office at Marine Lines on Monday, but the officers attached to the Income Tax Gazetted Officers Association and other unions refused to accept and process the same.

About four lakh returns were filed in Mumbai till July 31, which was the last date for the salaried class.

Out of these, 47,000 were filed in various post offices, the optional system started from this year. All over India 3.57 lakh returns were filed in post offices and all these assessees would suffer due to the protest, as it is countrywide. In Maharashtra 60,000 returns were filed through post offices.

There are two primary reasons for the protest by I-T officers. "First and foremost we are against outsourcing," said Rajesh Menon, All India Secretary General of the Association.

The other reason, he said was that the outsourcing work would only increase their headache, as the post office people were not supposed to and equipped to check the returns filed with them.

Menon said that when the returns are filed at I-T offices, some details especially the Permanent Account Number (PAN) and papers attached are checked.

He added that in many cases either the PAN number is written incorrectly or there are some other mistakes.

"Here we check them before accepting the return and get it rectified immediately. But for those coming from post offices, we have to again verify them," said Menon adding that if they accept the returns for processing, it would anyway delay the refunds.

"The returns have anyway come now (from the post offices), after three months," he said.

As per the guidelines, the I-T officers are supposed to issue refunds within four months. Generally, in about 50 per cent cases the officers have to make refunds.

"We have already started the process of issuing refunds for the returns filed in our various branches," said Menon.

Moreover, officers also said that the entire exercise, of accepting returns in post offices, was waste of money, as the government paid Rs 100 per return to the postal department.

"Hence, all over the country Rs 3.57 crore was paid to the postal department," said Menon.

He said that the same work is done at the I-T department for Rs 51. Explaining further he said that each I-T ward, on an average, gets 15,000 returns.

The total salary of the officers who handle these returns in each ward comes to Rs 7.62 lakh per annum. Hence, per return the cost comes to Rs 51.

But the assessees are not ready to buy this theory. "Why should we suffer because of their internal problems," asked Hemant Upadhyay, a manager in a private company who had filed his return at GPO and was expecting refund next month.

"After paying the income tax and after standing in queue for a long time at post office, we have to suffer like this," said an agitated Ajit Mehta who had submitted his return in Gorai post office, Borivali

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