Income tax refund: It’s a slow, agonising process

The current government’s penchant for everything shiny and new, such as the Rs. 2000 currency notes is a nightmare when it comes to accessing your IT refund.

Written by Anuradha Varma | Updated: March 27, 2018 8:14:24 am
Why do we file tax refund and how the process is very tedious writes reporter Anuradha Verma. (File)

A note to the government…if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! Having filed my income tax return well within the July 31 deadline, it’s taken almost nine months to receive the notification that the refund was being processed. Each time I clicked on the income tax portal for an update in the recent past, I was informed by Google that I had visited that page “multiple times”!

The current government’s penchant for everything shiny and new, such as the Rs. 2000 currency notes that I would despair to get changed if not for my friendly neighbourhood grocer, is a nightmare when it comes to accessing your IT refund. Earlier, in the good old days, once the IT department had your bank account details, the amount was credited without a fuss. If the amount happened to be over Rs. 50,000, I would get a message informing me of the cheque’s arrival, call my local postman to keep it safe for me and he would hand it over in exchange for some cash for “chai pani”. Not the ideal solution, but it worked!

This morning, I received a message asking to submit my details and verify my bank account to process my refund. No matter that they already had my bank account details for the previous years, plus my Aadhaar number. I went online, filled up the form, re-logging into my netbanking account and then was asked to submit my VBV (Verified by Visa, as I discovered) or my Mastercard secure code, along with my Profile ID. I tried fudging through it, but when it threw up an error page, I went back, did some digging and tried to create a VBV for my debit card. To which, my bank said, it didn’t have my mobile number registered (which is not true!). I was, thus, forced to register my newly received credit card online, something I had avoided doing because of the cases of online fraud and once that was done, my form was finally filled up.

Yes, I had to re-submit my Aadhaar number, too. An email informed me that I would now get an SMS to verify my phone details…hmm, an SMS on my registered mobile number, basically, to verify my mobile number. Through the SMS I was forced to download an app that basically got access to all my contacts, photos, etc. I clicked on the app to get verified even as my cab ride to office from Delhi to Noida took me through highways and tunnels with poor network and low internet connectivity, just so I could finally claim my refund. I’m still waiting to hear from the IT department if my efforts were a success.

All this, I reiterate, after the IT department already had my banking and Aadhaar details. But, no, the BJP government has to be different and do it their way, because that is of course, the best way. If a senior citizen had to go through this process, I’m assuming they would have to take the help of another individual, thus handing over their banking and credit card details to them. I was tempted to call my CA as well, but desisted precisely because of this reason.

Really, all I want to ask is, why? Why do we have to go through this, again and again, just so the government can pat itself on its back? So, let’s just say it, the Indian government, you’re awesome! Now can we just go back to the way things were?

The writer is an editorial consultant and co-founder of The Goodwill Project. She tweets @anuvee. Views expressed are personal.

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