Income Tax Filing in India
Income Tax Filing, as much as it is unattractive and uninteresting, it is huge. Number of online filers has exponentially increased from just over 20 Lac to 3.5 cr in last 5 years. It is a whopping 80% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Indian government plans to take all tax filing online by the year 2016. This surmounts to about 6 cr online tax filers at a meager 30%-40% compliance level. Considering that compliance will significantly improve (to 60-70%) with digitalization, we are looking at close to 10 cr online tax filers.
There are plenty of options available for filing the returns. Income Tax Department offers an option to self e-File returns using its utilities or website. While it is free, it is complex and can even be demoralizing if you are venturing into world of self e-filing for the first time. Also, there are many Online Tax Return filing service providers; nevertheless you would need to do your homework before you select one. Google them, check out their social media sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter to see what others have to say about their services or ask a friend.
You would need to do all this because tax return filing involves calculation and basic knowledge about the deductions which you want to claim. While doing so, the traditional Income Tax utilities ask the user to provide the details – section wise which makes it a bit more tedious for the tax filers since it raises questions in their minds like what does section 80C, 80CCC and 80CCD say, how to claim home loan benefits, which deductions are to be claimed under which section. All these things can be done with the help of a Chartered Accountant also but the fact remains that the tax filers have to do back and forth just to get their returns filed and receive the acknowledgement in their inbox.
As the August 31 deadline for filing income tax returns approaches fast, Techstory interacted with Vishvajit Sonagara, founder of Quicko.com- an online platform to file tax returns, to help our readers file their tax returns in much simple to use, efficient and secure way.
Vishvajit suggests that tax filing can be made easy if you get rid of conception that you need to know all about tax laws to file your return. If the tax filers are asked simple questions which they can answer very easily and at the same time provide them with the help and graphical representation of all their income and tax break details, the whole e-Filing experience can be very self satisfactory.
As stated earlier, there are several Online Tax Return filing service providers to assist you with tax filing process. Some of these online services are great, they not only help you file your return but also help you with tax planning. Their software is easy and there is plenty of help like chat support, CA on call, and email. Government is the biggest service provider but lacks will, vision and resources to improve online experience. One can say, Government is in business of providing common minimum services which leaves huge opportunities to private service providers. Current landscape does not have a market leader but rather has few entrants with varying experience, background and user base.
Quicko.com helps you file tax returns quickly
Quicko.com has been founded by Vishvajit Songara. Vishvajit returned home to India, after working at Wall Street banks for close to a decade. He returned home with a sole intention of building next Wealthfront.com or Betterment.com in India. Vishvajit is an avid technologist and has served in technical leadership position at Fidelity Investments and Deutsche Bank. During his work years at Fidelity Investments and Deutsche Bank, he realized there is a huge need and potential to bring 21st century personal finances to Indian consumers.
Speaking of how the idea of Quicko.com originated, Vishvajit says that idea came from the sole objective of solving the Income Tax Return filing problem from a software point of view. “We have incorporated that objective by setting up an interactive platform which helps people file their returns just by answering simple non-taxy questions. We also provide the data in the graphical formats (In pie charts & bar charts) which makes is much easier for the tax filer to understand the complex calculation” he adds.
Indian IT landscape is at a golden intersection- thanks to improved infrastructure and rapidly expanding user base, one among the world’s biggest. Yet there is a significant gap in niche service providers in critical areas such as banking, financial services, insurance etc. There have seen few bright spots to fill the gap but still a lot to be done.
Indian market place is crowded with e-commerce service providers which is a blessing in disguise. It has been able to divert focus, funding, resources away from critical online services and has transformed masses into online consumers. This new online consumer base is exploring all the options to avail the services which can make any process simpler be it real estate, automobiles, insurance or even cab services. Quicko.com is in the market to tap the potential of online income tax filing.
Quicko provides ITR-1 filing software to Indian taxpayers. The services have been developed by taking most complex of real life problems and breaking them down into simple, clean and intuitive online interactions.
Vishvajit believes that tax filing doesn’t have to be boring, because in a nutshell it is a summary of your entire year. He conveys that it’s that new house you bought or a new job that you accepted, or a new family member that you welcomed. “And we believe that no one but you can answer these questions better. So why leave it up to someone else, when you can take control. Our thought process reflects into our product, where it is not bunch of forms but a continuous conversation between us and you. It is all about answering few simple questions” he explains.
Quicko is fun to use, and comprises of charts that help users understand the big picture of all their incomes, tax breaks and tax liabilities right before they e-file.
The Market Size and Industry
Market size is huge. More than 3.2 Cr users e-Filed their returns in 2014, that number have increased to 4.25 Cr in 2015 and would touch more than 6 Cr in 2016. There is a massive trend, where people are taking control and filing returns themselves rather than relying on a tax professionals. They are also moving to online service providers. ClearTax, H&R Block and myITreturn are to name a few.
However, Quicko stands apart from all its competitors. Quicko has been created by software specialists, who solve peoples’ personal finances. Hence it brings fresh new perspective, out of box thinking and ability to break through shackles. Quicko’s user experience is an essential facet for the product and it has ensured that the interface is simple, clean and offers easy non-“taxy” questions, provides great mobile accessibility, along with cutting edge technology.
For an example, if you happen to own a house, and happen to have a home loan on that house, you will be asked about tax breaks that you would want to claim on this income. These questions are usually in form of input boxes with income tax sections marked next to it such as 80C, 80EE, 24B etc, in case of Quicko, it asks customers simple questions, such as Did you buys a house? Do you have a home loan? If so, how much interest/principal did you pay? It aims to remove the complexity from filing income tax returns.
Quicko aims to file 50,000 returns in its inception year, and goal is to double that by 2016 by filing more than 1 Lac returns. “We offer ITR filing for free to Salary people, we have also introduced all other ITRs for free as an introductory offer. Starting from 1st September, Quicko.com will charge between Rs. 500 to Rs. 5000 to its customers as per varying complexity. Quicko.com has also introduced it Tax Planning services, which we are offering at no cost at this moment but will be chargeable post 31st August” Vishvajit explains.
The Bright Future
Quicko.com is witnessing an increase in the number of registrations of users ever since its inception. In its debut season, Quicko.com has already assisted over 20,000 assessees in filing their Income Tax returns. Quicko offers a simple to use, efficient and secure platform to file tax returns. Citizens from 142 cities across the country, who are #Proudtopaytax have used Quicko.com to file their returns already. On August 7, 2015 the website registered 1,195 applications to file returns in one single day, the maximum number. Quicko.com makes filing income tax returns as easy as paying bills online. The average user rating has been 4.5 out of 5. This shows the promising future which Quicko holds.
Quicko.com bootstrapped and open shop for business under 6 months. That was a momentous effort by the team. Team worked grueling 18-20 hours every day for 6 months to get this done. Currently, Quicko.com team has 25 strong members that include 12 member technology team, 6 member marketing team, 4 member creative design team and 3 Chartered Accountants.
For Quicko, growth opportunities are abundant and it already is a player in the market looking forward to tap the major portion of the income tax e-filing!