How does the Indian income tax assessee get into the league of Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Frank Sinatra, and Princes Diana, among others? By filing his or her income-tax return electronically.

Iron Mountain

The Indian arm of US company Iron Mountain, which stores the verification forms of I-T assesses who file their returns electronically, also stores the wills of Princess Diana, Charles Dickens, and Charles Darwin. It also stores the 1959 patent of the red delicious apple and the original recordings of Frank Sinatra.

Nearly 85 per cent of e-filers send their verification forms. Over 2.14 crore assessees filed their returns in 2012-13 and this number is expected to go up to 2.75 crore during 2013-14. On an average, the Central Processing Centre receives 60-70,000 verification forms every day.

These forms help the assessee to complete the filing of the return. All these forms are scanned and then placed in specially designed carton box to be stored at an offsite location, transported, managed and operated by Iron Mountain.

Not just verification forms, but other documents of assessees are also stored. There is a bar code at document, carton, and storage bin level for easy tracking and retrievals. These documents are kept for six years, after which they are destroyed.

“The best part of the entire storage operation is confidentiality and security,” a company official claimed as the label of the carton makes no mention of its contents.

The company safeguards and provides access to more than 425 million cubic feet of paper records, 10 billion e-mails, 65 million computer backup tapes, 2.5 million PCs and 20,000 servers around the world.

The company has employed 21,000 professionals worldwide and has more than 1,000 facilities, 10 data centres and 3,500 vehicles. In India, the company has facilities in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Bangalore. It also plans to open a facility in Manesar.

Offsite storage is one of the key components of entire work system at CPC. The system involves receiving verification forms, scanning of returns, data entry and digitisation, tax accounting, interface with legacy system, processing of returns, automated and remote issuance of nearly 30,000 refunds every day by SBI, printing and dispatch of various intimations (nearly 70,000 a day) and call centre.

At present, CPC is spread over an area of one lakh square feet and managed by Infosys.

Now, the plan is to construct 1.72 lakh square feet of office space in one-acre plot already acquired. Based on the model of Managed Service Provider (MSP), the centre started full fledged processing from January 2010.

With only 35 members of Income Tax Department, this Centre handles one-third of the processing work load of the entire department.

The centre has managed to bring down the processing time to around 65 days from 12 months in the past. As a matter of priority, all refund cases are processed first.

After processing 1.3 crore cases of refund in the last four years, the centre expects to process all valid refund cases of the current year by January 2014.

shishir.sinha@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 25, 2013)
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