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Digital sign clause will tax small bizmen, say CAs
July, 07th 2011

Chartered accountants offering taxation services have flayed the recent order by the Central Board of Direct Taxes' making it compulsory for firms covered under tax audit to file tax returns with a digital signature. Last year such firms were asked to file electronic returns but an acknowledgment form with a manual signature could be sent later. That provision has now been done away with making digital signature mandatory. Business firms having a turnover of Rs 60 lakh or more are covered under tax audit.

Tax practitioners feel Rs 60 lakh is not a big amount these days and a large number of firms are within tax audit ambit. Many in this category are not tech-savvy and were finding electronic returns too complex. They would now be burdened with digital signatures, the CAs said.

Naresh Jhakotia of Vidarbha Industries Association's (VIA) taxation forum said digital signature for small traders would lead to security hassles. Normally the job of filing returns is entrusted to an employee or a professional. There is chance that the signature may be misused. Businessmen in remote areas will face great inconvenience in availing digital signature which has to be made through various IT firms designated by the government, he said.

More than inconvenience, security was a concern, added Rajesh Loya, former chairman of the Nagpur branch of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. This is because a large number of assessees entrusted the job of filing returns to others. It is risky to allow digital signature to be used by others. It would be as good as handing over seal of authority to someone else, he added.

Even as electronic returns and digital signature were a step towards making the taxation procedure technology-driven, it has its disadvantages. It is too early to make small businessmen follow the system as they were not exposed to technology, said Julfesh Shah, also a chartered accountant.

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