India's information technology prowess has been vindicated. On an average, 1.5 million people e-filed their tax returns everyday, during the last four days of August, much more than the combined daily average bookings of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (600,000) and Flipkart (100,000).
On August 30 and 31, 1,500-2,000 e-filings were recorded every minute, going up to 3,000 at the peak. According to officials at the income tax department's central processing centre (CPC) here, where teams from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys are collocated with tax officials, there were 18.4 million e-filings of income tax returns as of August 31, 15 per cent higher than a year ago.
While TCS manages the e-filing portal, Infosys manages the CPC.
"We had almost 6.5 million hits on the site on August 31. The number of returns filed on non-peak days was a few thousand. This crosses 200,000 10 days prior to due dates. But the system has been designed to handle three-four million returns a day," said an official, on condition of anonymity.
"We are pleased with the growth in volume this year," said Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice-president and global head of government business at TCS. "This enthusiasm of taxpayers is contributing to India becoming more digital," he added.
In 2012, TCS took charge of managing the e-filing services from Hewlett-Packard, after winning a five-year contract from the Central Board of Direct Taxes. The company manages the service end-to-end, from providing infrastructure and connectivity to building the applications.
This year, tax the department has built in validation services on the portal, which means taxpayers do not have to send a hard copy of the returns to the CPC for validation. Taxpayers e-verify themselves, by logging into the Aadhaar website or through their bank accounts.
"Many people were spending more time on the e-filing site. The reason could be they wanted their e-verification on the same day," said the official quoted earlier.
On whether that resulted in slowing the website, he said that could have been due to the pressure on internet service providers. "We monitor our bandwidth utilisation and it never exceeded 40 per cent, which means our server capacity and bandwidth utilisation can take more load," he added.