In the last five years, the tax department has saved a whopping Rs 977.54 crore on postage cost, following a rise in its online communication (e-mails) with taxpayers, which has more than doubled since 2013-14. According to Finance Ministry data, the tax department saved Rs 212.27 crore on postage cost in 2017-18 (till December 31), more than double the Rs 98.45 crore it saved in 2013-14, and about 20 per cent higher than the previous financial year (see box).The same period saw a steady rise in online communication, with 14.15 crore e-mails being sent to taxpayers in 2017-18, as compared to 11.82 crore in 2016-17, and 6.56 crore in 2013-14. Online communication saw a spurt in 2015-16, when the tax department rolled out paperless assessment across the country.
Till date, the Central Processing Centre (CPC) for Income Tax returns in Bengaluru has sent around 73.73 crore digitally signed intimations by email, around 67.96 crore SMS alerts and around 4.17 crore intimations by speed post across the country, the Finance Ministry data showed.
The tax department has calculated the savings on postage cost by taking the average cost per speed post or ordinary post as Rs 15.
The CPC processed about 5.62 crore Income Tax returns in 2017-18 as against 4.57 crore returns during the previous fiscal. In addition, the CPC has processed 1,25,978 wealth tax returns electronically.
The focus on electronic communication is a part of a series of measures taken by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the policy-making wing of the Income Tax department. The CPC also enabled a web-based taxpayer grievance mechanism in the last financial year, under which taxpayers can log in to the e-filing web portal and submit their grievances online. The resolution of the grievances and other assistance is provided through the registered e-mails of the taxpayers or also updated on the e-filing web portal.
Up to December 31, 2016, 6.01 lakh grievances were received, of which 5.98 lakh grievances were addressed, according to the data. E-Nivaran centralised grievance system has also been integrated with the online grievance portal, wherein 3.83 lakh grievances were received and 3.80 lakh were processed till December 2017.