I have been filing Indian income tax returns since the days when it was done all on paper. Every year. Without any accountant etc. So my experience, though anecdotal, is based on decades of experience for depth of comparison. I do know how to do some computer software programming, enough to know that “Hello World” takes me about 5 tries to get working. And that I have to keep at it until it comes up right, not throw it over the wall as “working software”.


This year the “new” InfoSys-developed Income Tax Portal has been in the news, though the news interest appears to have been squelched. The Hindi magazine PanchaJanya published an article which cited the poor quality of the software, and wondered whether Infosys would supply such a product in such a state to any of its foreign customers, and expect to survive. They also wondered whether the long track record of InfoSys in making a total mess of large and critical government initiatives, was due to some foreign or other anti-national motive. (Put another way, they wondered what I wondered: “Can adults really be this incompetent?”) The Indian Express attacked PanchaJanya’s article without doing an independent assessment of the quality of the portal, as usual for the Indian English language “mainstream media”. Flunked-out ex-RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, sitting in the US, suddenly gained expertise in COVID Pandemic Management. His way of “defending” Infosys was to accuse the “Modi Government” (which kicked him out) of poor COVID management (a blatant lie, finally convincing me of GOI’s good judgement in booting him out) – and whether that should not be considered anti-national activity. The old adage comparing open vs. shut mouth, ending “remove all doubt” comes to mind again: Dr. Rajan certainly removed any doubts I may have had.

According to the Times of India, “The journal editor Hitesh Shankar asserted, ‘Panchjanya stands firm with its report. If Infosys has objections, it should present its side…’. He further asserted that the report was not related to RSS, it was about Infosys. It was a matter of facts and ‘facts relating to the incompetence of the company’. He went on to suggest that Infosys may wish to request further investigation on the allegations made out in the article.”

The usually forthright portal Swarajyamag criticized PanchaJanya’s article as “immature” and further panned it in a surprising article. In between, the Hon. Finance Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitaraman, was reported to have given InfoSys until September 15, 2021, to fix the problems. The exact quote from Indian Express:

“The weekly has made these allegations in the context of glitches in the new Income Tax e-filing portal developed by Infosys. The website went online on June 7 but has since continued to pose problems for taxpayers. Last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman summoned Infosys CEO Salil Parekh and gave the company until September 15 to fix these glitches. Infosys got the contract in 2019.”…”In its cover story “Saakh Aur Aaghaat” (Reputation and Harm), Panchajanya alleged this was not the first time Infosys had bungled a government project. Citing problems in websites for GST and Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the article said: “When these things happen repeatedly, it is bound to raise suspicion. There are accusations that the Infosys management is deliberately trying to destabilise India’s economy…Could it be that some anti-national power is trying to harm India’s economic interests through Infosys?”

Present Context

I have nothing to do with all this High-Powered Hoopla. My only credential is that the Income Tax Authority has given me a Bronze Star and then a Gold Star (by email) for being too timid to dodge taxes for many years, as explained above. That is as close to a Padma Shri or a Param Vir Chakra as I expect to get. Given their mighty Titles, Pomp, Power and Pelf, it is safe to bet that Dr. Raghuram Rajan, the Editors of TOI, Indian Express and Swarajyamag, Shri Narayanamoorthy, and other entities who have opened their mouths on this issue, all share one characteristic: they have never tried logging into the Indian IT portal themselves, filling out Saral ITR-2 and actually submitting it and following up with a confirmation. I have.

I am writing this because I am tired of wasting my time trying to fill out my Indian Income Tax Return through the new InfoSys-developed portal, and having discovered that even professional accountants are telling us to just wait to see if the portal will get fixed. At this point, there is no way for me to submit my tax return. As of October 19, 2021. Thirty-four (34) days after the Sep. 15 deadline that InfoSys was given to fix their problems. Over two years after they got the contract. Over 4.5 months after the portal went “online” and started wasting taxpayers’ time.


On my annual Nightmare Calendar are two dates: April 15, US Federal and State tax deadline. July 15, Indian tax deadline. Being slow and amateurish, I have to start months in advance of both. For the US form, I have to get Indian income and “TDS” (tax deducted at source) data as of December 31. This has always been an interesting adventure, particularly in the 1990s when bank managers looked pityingly at me for my stupidity in asking them to deduct and report tax on interest – and then dealing with their penchant to “lose” or “misplace” those deductions. Further updates are needed for Indian tax submission after the March 31 end of the tax year, to fill in the Indian Tax forms. If they mess up, I have no choice but to pay the Income Tax department. If I honestly report more income than what the bank reported, the IT Dept slams me with a demand for additional taxes which I had to pay via “challan” through a bank in India. If I honestly reported more TDS than what they saw in their database, based on the Bank Manager’s emailed numbers, they simply ignored it – while believing the income on which the TDS is reported.

South Indian Bank once cost me some Rs. 14000 in extra taxes (equivalent in dollars to maybe Rs. 1 Lakh today), after I had repeatedly told them to get the tax deposited, and the above scenario played out. That was the last time they got to hold any of our deposits. A major Nationalized Bank – the only one that would allow us to open an account when we first visited India after our studies (because the brother of a classmate worked there and recognized us) used to be very good and responsive, but once they got a Manager who was Brother of the Police Chief, so no one dared question him on even why he would not come to to work.. (never mind: Rs 2 lakhs of extra tax paid, still outstanding for several years, in the hands of the IT Dept and despite efforts by the best accounting firm in my town, they ain’t budging).

But I reasoned that it was better to sleep well and innocent, albeit a bit hungry, than to lose sleep. In the early 2000s the US and Indian governments got together courtesy of the Internet Revolution and 9/11/2001, and since then it may be assumed that They Know. Everything. Now it is all formalized: I have to give the US tax ID number on the Indian forms, and vice versa.

This is all old hat to veteran Indian tax filers I am sure, but just posting for the benefit of those whose entire participation in tax filing is to royally hand over their folder/envelope with receipts to their accountant. It is not just that I am miserly (which I am): it is just that the Expert Accountants whom I know, tend to delegate my file to their assistants whose competence leaves me still unable to sleep with the blissful assurance level of an InfoSys Executive.


So is this a rant from a US Superiorist NR Tax Filer? As in “what yaar! Back home in the US this eej so eeejy onlee!”


Through the decades, India’s tax portal and software have changed practically every year with steady improvements in the concept – the only Unchanging Feature being the division of all tax filers into Two Kinds (No, I am not kidding!): Those Who Do Not Own Race Horses, and Those Who Do . I have never tried checking the “yes” box on that, so no idea what happens: maybe a nice InfoSys graphic will show up of someone in polo boots walking behind a horse with a shovel. I see that this question still persists in the New Portal, though the world-leading Indian Betting Industry has advanced far beyond race horses to cricket matches, elections, etc.

So a “new portal” is not a new experience, except that this year (and the prior year) there are significant changes in the tax system, with both a “New” and an “Old” set of rules under which one can file.

My observation is one of intense admiration and gratitude for the Government of India, who have provided extensive resources to help taxpayers fill out and submit the tax return, and provide error-correction assistance. A few milestones:

  1. A fully hand-filled set of forms in the early 90s (the ITR-2 “Saral” which I have always filled).
  2. A Microsoft Excel based form with numerous schedules (late 90s/ early-mid 2000s), each added as a sheet in the file. This is where I learned to “enable Macros”. There was no Macintosh version, but I was usually in India in late June so I could use a Windows computer there.
  3. The MS Excel form (2010s), now generating an “XML” file at the very end after validation. The XML is what the user submitted on the tax portal.
  4. The form started working on the Apple Macintosh Operating System.
  5. A choice of a JAVA version or the MS Excel version, late 20-teens.
  6. And now the new Portal, which provides a nice installer “DMG” for Macintosh users too. That DMG actually downloaded and installed without incident. Kudos!

Quick Comparison: US vs. India

All through these decades, my compliance with the US tax filing system also evolved from hand-filled forms obtained from the Post Office, or in some years mailed to us by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In the 1990s I started splurging on a tax software package (roughly $30 to $45) and would use that to generate a printed set of forms that we then mailed. There used to be many deductions in the US System until President Ronald Reagan brought in the Paperwork Reduction Act, and Tax Simplification. One cartoon reduced it all to the New Form 1040 EZ: “How Much Did U Make? Send It In”. More recent reforms, such as the one from POTUS Trump, made it a waste of time to collect any receipts even for Charitable Donations. Similar strategy to India’s New Tax Rules.

The US IRS did not then, nor does now, provide free tax computation software. One can get assistance to fill the forms from various entities. Even today, filing on-line is not free: one gets charged for it. And some forms, for reasons known only to the IRS, can be downloaded and filled on the computer (fillable PDF) but cannot be submitted online at all. Example: if one owns Foreign (meaning Indian) Mutual Funds. The US IRS, dictated by the US Congress, appears to operate on the assumption that if one holds accounts, stocks etc outside the US, that can only be to hide from taxes, run drugs, or pay terrorists. Sort of like Indian banks that ask me to Verify That I Am Who I Say I Am under “KYC” practically every day. One has to file an additional form every year with the Treasury Department (fortunately now doable through the Internet) listing all accounts and account numbers and addresses of banks and financial organizations – under penalty of perjury if one messes up. Whatever the reasons, we believe in sending printed forms by US Mail.

Compare this to the evolution of the Indian Income Tax system. Totally on-line! I have to remember to even save a PDF version that I can print if I need to. Totally free. The forms are free, the computation software is free, the submission through the Internet is free! And this year, they have gone to an “interview” (boxes to fill to answer questions) technique, on par with the best of the $45 software package that I get in the USA. Absolutely commendable.

If and only if it were done with care.

Mind you, the US also changes its tax laws. The software (H&R Block “TaxCut” or “TurboTax”) keeps getting updated. Every time one tries to use it, it first checks for updates, and one has to wait until it is done updating.

The JAVA gimmick

Soon after each improvement in convenience, mysterious “glitches” creep into the Indian tax system. Some years ago, India’s Income Tax portal went to a JAVA-based option. Those who were brave enough, could opt to venture beyond the EXCEL-based tool, to a JAVA-based tool. One had to download the latest version of JAVA, install it on one’s computer, then download the tool from the website. This is common sense: one is constantly asked to update JAVA because older versions open up avenues for hackers to attack: the newer ones presumably have closed those vulnerabilities. If it worked, as it did initially on Windows computers (in my case it took only a few attempts), it was a dream: no more big EXCEL file with Macros. When it was done it would compute taxes and validate as before, then generate an XML file to upload. This lasted a few years. Worked amazingly smoothly, maybe the next couple of years. I was one happy taxpayer!

Then it hit. One year I read the bold instruction to MAKE SURE YOU INSTALL THE LATEST VERSION OF JAVA. I had a bit more time, so I tried the Mac version. I made sure to get the latest version of JAVA on my computer. No luck, the ITR-2 package would not work. i tried ITR-3. No luck. ITR-4. No luck.

I assumed it was a Mac incompatibility and borrowed my nephew’s Windows laptop and did everything there too: latest JAVA version, downloaded the ITR tool. No luck.

I then gathered up courage and actually called Customer Support. A nice person came on line promptly, and asked me what Version of JAVA I was using. “Oh, the latest, sir, I made sure to update it, thanks!” I said. “What version are you using”? he persisted, and asked me to look it up, and he would call back. A couple of hours later the phone rang: it was the same person!!!! Imagine that: a Govt. Income Tax person actually calling a taxpayer to help! I was impressed. I told him, “Version 8, the latest”. He then gave me the Secret: “Download Version 5”. I was shocked. Go to an OLDER version?? Three years obsolete?

I then asked my nephew if he had ever heard of such a thing. He laughed. “We keep one PC in the office whose software is NEVER updated. That is the only way we can use the Government’s tools to submit competitive Tenders. Try using that computer.” Sure enough, that worked.

Why would anyone do that – I mean, ask people in the instructions to make sure to download the latest JAVA – then have a tool that will only work with the JAVA of 3 years ago? This is the Agent Syndrome: make sure only Agents/Accountants In the Know can fill in the forms. Shut out the amateur taxpayer. Lesson learned – but being diehard, I wondered: how do these Agents/Accountants learn their tricks?

The Internet Forum Resource

I found out where the Agents learned – other than from the “chaiwala” in Indian offices. They spend time on Internet fora. Sure enough, there are extensive discussions, if you know how to hunt down the right forum. Many times I have been able to meet the July 31 deadline by spending a lot of time on those fora, seeking that one precious piece of knowledge that breaks out of the Infinite Loop of frustration and mounting anxiety. The joy of the Prospector. The thrill of the dig. Archimedes facing execution at dawn.

Maya: The Disappearing TRACES Site

Another year, the Excitement came from the fact that the TRACES portal where TDS was posted (download form A26) suddenly disappeared after January 1, and stayed disappeared until about June. Absolutely no explanation. In other words, NRIs who had to access it from outside India could not do so, making it impossible to get correct figures for the April 15 US tax deadline. Well…. not QUITE impossible. I found that a relative in India, with my credentials (strictly haraam I know!) was able to access the portal quite well, download my A26 and send it to me. How did I know? By wading through thousands of posts on Internet fora, of course!

The Mysterious Formatting Error

In another year they stumped me. The JAVA would not work, so I finally went back to the EXCEL Utility. Everything worked until the very last step of entering TDS information: Something was seriously messed up there in the format: the text got splattered across several cells. Fortunately the IT site was forgiving: it allowed me to upload XML in this state. Of course they have closed this window now too, with the present system: when this one is messed up, it is REALLY messed up. “Validation Error”. All the ingenuity of the netizen accountants of India has been stumped this time.

Decades of Impunity

So my point is that this nonsense has been going on for a long time. GOI pays for wonderful resources to make life convenient for the Indian taxpayer, whether inside or outside India. World-beating resources, in concept. INFOSYS, TCS, KARVY, or whoever else gets those lucrative government contracts to serve a billion people, appear to do their worst to put in – or not remove – strange “surprises” to make life miserable for the taxpayer, and endeavor to give us heart attacks. Or so it certainly appears to the frustrated honest taxpayer. Which, I believe is what PanchaJanya’s Editor asked pretty bluntly: Why do these entities keep doing this? And getting away with it? Isn’t it high time that someone called them on the mat – or took their CEO/Chairperson etc to the “woodshed” (figuratively speaking)?

But in no case had I ever encountered a system that made the user start from scratch every time the software is updated. As the New InfoSys System makes me do, per the YouTube videos by experts on the subject. Perhaps they reason that after all, SOMEONE has to use their system, since they obviously have not spent more than seconds on it themselves, hain?

“Filing ITR is easier than ever”.

A Few Observations

  1. From the User Profile, if one selects an item (say, Bank Account Details), if one clicks Back, one does not return to the Profile page. Instead one reaches the Dashboard: https://eportal.incometax.gov.in/iec/foservices/#/dashboard
  2. On the User Profile, I put in both a primary and a secondary phone numbers. The primary is an India number, for which I selected the Indian flag on the pull-down menu to indicate India Country Code of +91. The secondary is my US number, for which I selected the US flag on the pull-down menu, to represent the US Country Code of +1. However when the InforSys ITR-2 imported these prefilled data from the IT portal, it appears to have hard-coded the area code as +91. Regardless of the country code selected. There is no way to edit that. This is a plain error. It ensures that I cannot get an OTP or any other notification sent to me on my US phone.
  3. Much effort (and cost to the taxpayer) appears to have been spent on gratuitous graphics and fancy appearance. An example is the graphic showing a fancy multimodal transportation graphic that has no relation to the tax form (perhaps it shows how the tax one pays is used: for conveniences intended for the top 1% of the nation, as well as InfoSys executives traveling abroad?) I believe one screen actually shows some cars moving on a road in the gratuitous imagery. The only useful purpose of the screen is a button marked “CONTINUE”. Another screen shows a woman in a western frock sitting somewhere presumably in sheer happiness at filling ITR-2. With her pink legs exposed for mosquitos to have a fiesta. This is a site for INDIA?
  4. Little effort appears to have been spent on explaining things. For instance, the Schedule Selection page could have been used much better to explain linkages between schedules, rather than just parrot the IT jargon.
  5. TDS download. When TDS data are imported from the prefilled XML, there is no visible way to click the box marked “self” in the first column. (Why isn’t this clicked by default? If I import TDS data on my PAN number, isn’t it my TDS by default?) One discovers that these boxes are not clicked, ONLY DURING VALIDATION: when each unmarked line generates an error. The only way to correct that is to click on the hyperlinked (thanks!) error line, which takes one to the TDS line, to check the box. Even at that stage it is not possible to click all boxes on the subsequent lines. One has to return, and returns not to the error page! One returns to Schedule Selection or some such, and has to click through a whole cycle until one again reaches Validation to see the next error. I only had a few bank accounts and Dividend TDS lines, so it took only about an hour to do this. But if users have to do this online, it is going to clog the system if a few million try it at the same time! This is sloppy coding.
  6. The entire Validation system needs some human intelligence.
  7. The DIVIDEND VALIDATION ERROR: There are blatant errors in the Dividends error check: even when there is no error in the user’s data, INFOSYS gives an error, and does not let the user get past this stage. This was confirmed after I had spent several hours and because prior years’ experience warned me to go hunt on the Internet for discussions on this. I found quite a few. As long as THREE MONTHS AGO, users reported complaining about this error to the IT complaints desk, with no response. Why is this error still there, INFOSYS? Isn’t it arrogant disregard for the Hon. Minister and contempt for the value of the taxpayers’ time?
  8. The IT department has not ignored it: they have developed a YouTube video on this error instead of getting INFOSYS to fix the error. Their solution: DO NOT USE THE DOWNLOADED FORM, instead fill it out online! What kind of clumsy “fix” is that? And they counsel casually: Do not save, exit and return to the saved form, because that will give an error. “Updates are happening all the time”. In other words, fill all the data with quarterly breakdown of dividends (manual entry is the only way) and run through the entire cycles of clicking the “self” box on TDS for each line, and make sure you do all that at one sitting, and do not check your work by downloading and checking in peace. All because INFOSYS can’t be bothered to fix blatant errors, 3 months after users reported them!! If this isn’t criminal arrogance what is it?
Choose Online Or Offline
Download Prefilled Data
ITR Return Filing
Gratuitous graphics
Schedule Selection
Validation Errors
YouTube illustration of the process.
  • There is a Reddit forum thread titled: “Unable to resolve an error in Schedule OS related to Dividend Income”. It was posted three months ago. The leading post says: ” The error says – In Schedule OS, Sl No 10 the quarterly breakup of Dividend Income (i+ii+iii+iv+v) is not equal to [1a – DTAA Dividend – System calculated value at 3aii] of Schedule OS. My dividend decalred in 1a exactly matches the sum of quarterly breakup (have also tried putting it all in one cell). I have no DTAA dividend and no deductions declared either. Have been repeatedly getting the validation error. Anybody else facing the same issue? Thanks.”
  • That is exactly what stumped me for about 6 hours on October 17.
  • The latest of the 51 comments under it says (very recently): “Please don’t file your returns now. Unless you have a refund return and need money urgently. There a lot of bugs in the system and it’ll create a lot of issues for the people filing returns in this buggy system. We filed TDS returns for our clients way before the due date and then one day we received mails from the Income-tax department saying that all TDS returns filed have been lost, please file again. So my advice would be wait 2-3 weeks before filing the returns”
  • Prashoo1982 asks: “Hi.. Any idea when these issues will get resolved. Also for people who are not able to resolve these issues online is there any helpdesk available?”
  • LethaIET says: “I saw the section 111A (STCG on selling Equity stocks/MF) is missing while filing ITR2 using the help utility. The ITR-2 pdf copy does have a section on same but no where I am able to find it while filing the same.”
  • roboticistBrain says: “Faced a similar error. It’s probably due to rounding off the dividend values incorrectly in the software. You can try removing the decimal places yourself, and check if it adds up. (Software terms: put a round off command incorrectly before addition, which made it different from the actual addition). Worked for me, however there are a lot of problems so you should not waste a lot of time trying this.”
  • Sarakzz · 3m “I am also having the same issue. Tried both online and offline mode. Also tried importing the JSON file to income tax website but issue is not resolved.”
  • GalacticAdvisors · “Like a lot of people suggested, hold off on filing an ITR for now. We’re trying to do the same for most clients. Too many glitches to take the risk right now.”
  • shri314 · 3m “No matter what I get the same error – “In Schedule OS, Sl No 10 the quarterly breakup of Dividend Income (i+ii+iii+iv+v) is not equal to [1a – DTAA Dividend – System calculated value at 3aii] of Schedule OS”. I even tried removing my dividend income all together – still, I get this. It’s really frustrating. Also, every time I log off and resume filing my return, I see some glitches like – selection of Individual vs HUF gets deselected, and sections that I had previously deselected come back, and so on. While this is a very good initiative from govt, the state of the website is so pathetic”.
  • Lumiaman88 · 3m: “Tried filing my ITR today, same issue. So I just completely removed dividends and added them to other income, they are both taxed at slab anyways. However now I am facing an issue where in my normal base tax + STCG is different from their total by 1 Rs, and it throws an error saying amounts not matching, super frustrating given that the utility itself is calculating the total tax”.
  • prashoo1982: “I am facing one more issue in Schedule BFLA which says that Sl No 2(3+4+5+6+7+8+9) is not equal to SL No 4(x)+ 5(x) of Schedule CFL. I filled my carried forward losses in CFL and BFLA got calculated automatically based on that. I don’t think this error message is correct.”
  • jkdaniel: Thanks for the thread guys, atleast i got to know, i am not the only one facing the same issue. I’ve checked the calculation several times and it is matching and validating correctly , but the moment you upload the .json it gives same error. Have checked values in the .json and i believe this is a simple fix. Can’t imagine this is still unresolved.
  • mncsekar : I am also getting same error of break up dividend not matching under OS. Informed on IT grievance . Got message Solution Not Applicable. Just waiting for software rectification. Also under CG rounding off error is present in software. When decimals are avoided it is ok. (Note: others refute this).
  • tribeofdope: “Tried to upload today and was facing this issue. Uploaded another return a month ago which had dividend as well, had no issues with that. Only facing issues in this one.” (Note: So new errors got into “update”?)
  • Other bugs were reported 3 months ago. “Charges a late fees when last filling date has been extended to 30-Sept-2021. All Income has been added from Form 16 and 26AS but tax paid is showing zero. Need to update it manually. Minor UX bug, not good UX. When one starts filing a new return, all drop down disables and one gets confused. See this post.”
  • The same ITR-2 Dividend error was reported back on July 19: “While filing ITR 2, I am getting validation error – ‘In schedule OS, Sl No 10 the quarterly break-up pf dividend income (i+ii+iii+iv+v) is not equal to [1a – DTAA Dividend – System calculated value at 3aii] of schedule OS’ We have matched the amounts. Both the amounts are matching. I am further getting the error that in schedule CG, sl no e(x) is not equal to the difference of (i)-(x). This is also matching when I check the form preview.”
  • A month and half later the same error persisted: Vikrant (SA) 30 August 2021: “Yes today 30th Aug even I am getting same error, has this issue resolved for anyone?”
  • Ram on 9 September reported: “Today (9 Sep 2021) I have tried repeatedly to upload json file and file my income tax. Repeatedly I am getting the error on quarterly distribution of dividend amounts, at the final stage, as below: Category of Defect A In Schedule OS, Sl. No. 10 the quarterly break up of Dividend Income (i+ii+iii+iv+v) is not equal to [1a-DTAA Dividend -System calculated value at 3aii] of Schedule OS. I have tried with the latest version ITDe-Filing Setup 1.0.12.exe Experts, Kindly help to fix this, as I am nervous that only 20 days are left now.”
  • Vijaya Krishna Kasula 12 September 2021: “Same here at 12/Sep/2021. How to proceed”
  • Someone claimed on 14 September that he got it working, but now past mid-October it is still very much present. Is this a lack of basic Version Control discipline at InfoSys?
  • Several Youtube videos have sprung up claiming to have found a solution to some of the errors. One is “Dividend Income Validation” that simply repeats the instructions in the tax forms. Problem is, they don’t work.
  • Shweta at Tax Solutions posted a YouTube video in Hindi, that is clear and to the point on how to report dividend. She showed manual filling of the TDS info on-line: a very long process. She counsels doing the entire thing at one site: “new portal, don’t save and resume, that will give an error”. Sounds easy but not viable when several items have to be filled. “Hamesha Start New Filing karega”. Nice.

I note in closing that list, that all of the above are from users of ONE form: the ITR-2, probably the simplest of all the forms. No salary to report, no house to rent out etc, no business income, no depreciation, no capital gains, no loss carryover, no Hindu Undivided Family, no race-horses, no luxury automobile, no Portuguese Civil Law, no exemptions, no 80G or 80GG, no 115b, no tax-exempt income (any more). How many more errors are lurking in all those other forms?


R. Jagannathan, distinguished Editor of Swarajyamag, severely chided the editorial in the PanchaJanya magazine, which he saw as being inappropriate in criticizing InfoSys for making a complete pig’s breakfast of the job of updating India’s Income Tax portal. He made several points on How To Criticize an Iconic Corporation. But note that his article was dated September 8. Today is October 20: the portal and its ITR forms are still messed up, and as seen above InfoSys appears utterly unresponsive to well-known user concerns and proof of blatant errors.

Shri Jagannathan’s points:

  • “InfoSys is a company with $100B stock valuation”. Yes, so does it behave like a fly-by-night scam? Why can’t it error-check and correct a piece of software that is used by 100s of millions of Indian taxpayers, SEVERAL MONTHS after the errors are pointed out? Is Indian taxpayers’ time not worth a paisa?
  • “One, government portals are incredibly hard to do, since they are about customising software for one institution with multiple stakeholders who may not all be on the same page on what they want from the portal. The finance ministry and its tax sleuths may want one kind of information or functionality from it, while the other objective is to make the portal easy to use even while pre-filling data from other sources.” Grand set of vague excuses, maybe, but all that was to be done here was to update the software for the forms with the new laws. The tax laws come from one Ministry, no one was asking InfoSys to frame the laws or get them passed through the Lok & Rajya Sabhas, just implement the law as signed off by the President. Something done in tax software all over the world every year. Tax laws are precise and unambiguous. Coding that into forms does not require any great genius, no math besides basic addition, subtraction, maybe multiplication and division. No square roots or exponents, no quadratic equations let alone partial differential equations. The idea of “round-off” is cited by many as a possible error in the software: this is basic in any computer programming language manual if not course. No one expected the new software to work flawlessly first time like a GSLV launch, but more than six months after it was supposed to work, blatant errors still remain ignored. THIS from a company with a “$100B Valuation”?
  • “Two, a customised portal will only be as good as the inputs given to the software company’s engineers on what is required. Very often specifications keep changing as people in government seek added functionalities not covered by the original tender. It needs continuous interaction and testing to ensure that it satisfies all users, including the millions of individuals and corporations that will use it for simple and complex filings.” What part of the specifications said to not check if the thing was blocking users with “errors” that are simply nonsense? How did InfoSys Testing Managers manage to get a test form filled? Or did they ever even try it one time? Is it not blatant fraud to submit an untested software package to ANY customer, not just an agency that has to reach 1.4 billion people?
  • “Any software platform can only be as good as the guidance and detailed functionality specs given by the buyer, and if the Infosys portal has many problems still, it should reflect poorly on the tax department’s own ability to articulate clearly what it wants the portal to do.” Don’t we expect the contractor who undertakes to re-do the tax portal to have people who can do basic arithmetic, and who have at least tried filling a tax form? Do they need GUIDANCE to actually test a piece of software before they put it out in the field?
  • “Suffice it to say that such complex portals go through multiple iterations before they ultimately stabilise.” Oh REALLY? And they have still not found the errors which all users are finding?


  1. The Govt. of India has spent the taxpayers’ money to streamline the Income Tax return filing system immensely over the decades. The services provided are far in excess of what I find in the USA. This is absolutely commendable.
  2. Every year the GOI has improved the convenience of the system to taxpayers.
  3. The new Portal, for which GOI paid/is paying InfoSys Rs. 167 Crores, seeks to enhance the convenience even more. It is superbly well-intentioned.
  4. The implementation by INFOSYS is sloppy beyond belief or any excuse. It may be legitimately questioned as blatant fraud followed by arrogant contempt for the tax-paying public.
  5. Several errors have been encountered even in the simplest of filings, one month after the absolute deadline for fixing the system, six months after it was supposed to be ready, and over 2 years after contract award.
  6. Errors still in the system, have been confirmed by numerous users as far back as THREE MONTHS AGO, but are yet to be fixed
  7. The IT department is aware of the errors, and yet there is no indication that they will be fixed. Like the potholes on Kerala roads, the Advice is to negotiate around them even if it takes hours to do what should happen automatically in milliseconds.
  8. This situation does not provide any reason for confidence in INFOSYS products or services anywhere in the world. Nor, unfortunately, in the integrity of top management, given their promise to pay attention and resolve the mess, months ago.
  9. My suggestion to INFOSYS: CLEAN UP YOUR MESS. NOW. Please. Quit bullying those who point out what should be obvious to anyone.
  10. My suggestion to the Government of India: A deterrent example is needed to prevent the annual recurrence of such sloppiness.
  11. Is INFOSYS really “too big to criticize” as the Swarajyamag article tells us? Swarajyamag called InfoSys: “India’s iconic software services company.”
  12. Might “Maharajah of Indian Software” be more appropriate, a la Air India, I wonder, given the current quality, functionality, maintenance and service.

Satyam Eva Jayate

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