The other day, I got an IT refund cheque. This was a complete surprise. It was for Assessment Year 2008-09. In that year, I had a tax consultant who helped me with my taxes. The fellow was a moron and the following year, when he made my acknowledgement out in the wrong name, I got rid of him. But in FY 2007-08, he did my taxes and he did them wrong. I didn’t even know he’d done them wrong. I still don’t have a good idea about the exact nature of the error(s) he made. But last Saturday, when Amit went to our old home to pick up the mail, he called me to say there was a cheque for me from the IT department, for 36k and change. I’d better hurry up and cash it before the IT gods change their minds, he said. The cheque was already six weeks old.
Last year, I had a different tax consultant help me with my taxes. This man riled me up too – because he was stupid, inefficient, and terribly slow. I’ve realized that I’m a person who handles stress very badly. My strategy, therefore, is to avoid stress altogether by getting things done very far in advance of the given deadline. This works well – except when it comes to tax. Because I’m terrified of the whole tax calculation process, I try to use the services of a professional when that time of year rolls around. All these professionals land me in soup, because everyone wants to get things done on 30th July for the 31st July deadline. I want to get my stuff done by 30th June. Nobody understands this. So they don’t lift a finger to help until I beat them up with a stick – metaphorically speaking; though there’s no telling what I would do if I could only get them within hitting distance of a stick – and by then it’s usually 25th July. And I’m getting ulcers.
So last year, when I got impatient waiting for this man to send me the final little changes to my tax work, I decided I’d got enough to go on, and I would be able to fill the form, generate the xml, and file it online all by myself. Sigh. I did everything ok, but in one small column somewhere, where the date should have been December 2009, I put in December 2010 – a date still several months in the future at the time. Sadly enough, the tax spreadsheet didn’t even complain about this.
In February this year, the IT department sent me a notification by email. I was terribly busy, so I glanced at it and filed it away. In June, I got another notification, which I treated similarly. So it wasn’t until July, a whole year later, when I actually read the third notification, that I realized what they were telling me. They were telling me two things – first that they had tried to deliver my refund and failed; and second, that the refund they were trying to deliver was substantially less than I expected (because of that wrong date, which caused that transaction to fall in the next financial year).
I wasted a lot of time, energy, and stress hormones following up with my tax consultant. It was July – he was just starting to work on other people’s current year’s tax returns. He wasn’t interested in some failed refund for some previous year. He didn’t return my calls, didn’t reply to my mails and generally acted as if I didn’t exist. Naturally – he’s not my tax consultant anymore.
In the end, I tackled the problem head on. I spent a whole day fiddling around on the Internet and finally I had it sorted. I had filed a rectification return correcting the wrong date; I had updated my PAN card to my new address in the hope that the refund would come to our current address (it had gone back three times, apparently, with the message “no such address”, and I have no idea why that should have been, considering they had no trouble delivering my windfall return from an earlier year to the old address where I no longer reside); and I had, for the nth time, sent my updated address and bank details to the IT gods along with a prayer to them to return my hard-earned cash to me, with interest if you please.
Oh, and I had also filed my current year’s tax return – two weeks ahead of the official deadline, even if two weeks behind my own internal deadline.
I was exhausted but cautiously optimistic. This might work.
And, finally, against all odds, it did. First I got an updated PAN card, and then, almost two months later, I got an updated statement from the IT gods, agreeing with my rectified return, acknowledging that no refund had as yet been paid (hallelujah!), and dispatching a cheque for the entire amount due – with interest.
And today, I got the cheque! Wonders will never cease.
*In case you were wondering, I’m the good people referred to in the title. I am.