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I-T dept working on centralised returns processing
October, 03rd 2006
The income tax department is working on an action plan for centralisation of processing of tax returns for salaried taxpayers. According to a proposal, the processing of tax returns could be reduced from around four months at present to 60 days. The aim is to cut short the wait for income tax refunds. "The idea is to set up five or six centres in the country which will receive and process tax returns. Having centralised offices to process returns will help the income tax department to dedicate only a portion of its total staff for the purpose and utilise its remaining staff for other activities like investigation and assessment," a finance ministry official said. If the proposal is approved, around 20 per cent of the department's existing staff of around 55,000 will be dedicated to undertaking tax returns processing. Of the total returns received by the department, nearly 40-50 per cent are salaried returns. The processing of returns will be aided by outsourced data entry operators. Officials said a pilot project for undertaking centralised processing had been in operation at Mumbai for the last two years and the results had been very encouraging. There is, however, also a view within the ministry that the centralised processing system may not work in India unless all the returns are filed electronically. "Since there will only be centralised centres for processing the returns, the returns will have to be physically transported to these centres," an official said. But supporters of the proposal point out that the problem can be resolved if the income tax department extends the network of post offices in the country which will accept the tax returns.
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