Monday, July 23, 2007

Free and fast filing of IT returns

A follow up from my previous post Filing income tax returns Protect your privacy and save the cost of a CA by filing your IT returns online. A colleague of mine recently sent this:

1. Go to
2. Register yourself with your PAN number as your login ID.
3. Download the software listed(its nothing but a PDF file). (You require adobe acrobat reader 7 and above. Filling the form can be done offline also. Only the xml file is required for filing the returns.)
4. Fill it. Have your Form 16 along side you. It has all the information required. And have your check book also because you will need your bank details.
5. At the bottom of the PDF there are 4 buttons Print, Check Form, Generate Bar Code, and Export to xml . After filling, click on Check form and then click on Generate bar code. Finally click on Export to xml.
6. This will generate an xml file. Save it. (Ensure the file name has no special characters or space).
7. Now login to the site and go to the option “Submit returns”.
8. Upload the xml file. You will get an acknowledgment form link “ITR-V”. Download this and save it for reference.
9. That’s it!

Friday, July 20, 2007

More to credit cards in India

HSBC claim to have strong security and privacy measures. They provide a hardware device that generates a one time password. You use that along with a pin number and a username to log into their online banking site. Now here starts my timeline. I apply for a HSBC credit card April 2006 and I promply get one by June 2006. They are one of the most blatant solicitors and have call centers spread across the country calling randomly generated numbers. They keep calling me 5-6 times a week soliciting credit cards even after I received one is a different story altogether. So I did get my card and waited for their security device to arrive after requesting one. After many a calls, I did finally get one after almost 9 months only to be able to log into somebody elses account!

SBI solicits cards not only through the phone but also has agents spread across planet earth. You are somehow drawn into their net and apply for one. Now they need to verify your background. What do they need? Your credit card statements from other banks. They have resigned themselves into believing that they are late starters and every individual has already hooked onto some credit card or the other.

End crib.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Credit cards in India

Some of the major banks that provide credit cards in India are Citibank, HSBC, HDFC, ICICI, SBI and recently Barclays. They operate very differently from their American counterparts. In America, there are credit bureaus that maintain credit history of individuals. The credit history is verified before issuing credit cards. There are concerns of privacy but it is located at some central entities and this information is disbursed to selected organizations. It is a lot more haphazard in India. Credit card companies employ third party call centers to solicit and collect information of individuals. They employ third party background verification agencies who call you and/or send their representatives to verfiy your residence/office.

There was one such individual who had come from ICICI to verify our residence. When asked for an Identification, he retorts that he does not have one and walks away. Three weeks later there is a letter from ICICI saying that they have rejected the application for credit card and do not state any reason.

I had applied for a Barclay's card recently. They promply send their representative who collects your relevant financial documents and you fill their application form. Now the verification starts. First they send their representative to your residence who asks you a bunch of questions. Then they call your cell phone and repeat the process. It does not end here. They send someone to your office. Then call your office phone. It could get worse if you are living in a rented accommodation. They may also call and physically verify your permanent residence! And I thought applying for a passport was tough!!

To be continued....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Filing income tax returns

Painful as it seems but it is that time of the year when you need to submit Form 16(Tax Deducted at Source salary) and Form 12BA(Perquisites) to the government. But the good thing is that there are Chartered Accountants available in aplenty to file the returns for you. They charge anywhere between Rs.100 - Rs.200 for each return filed. They collect your forms, PAN card copy, bank details and fill up the relevant forms before they file it and bring you an acknowledgment receipt from the government. You save the trouble of doing all these yourself and standing in the line during government working hours.

How trustworthy are these people? I tend to trust them because so many others do. If there are issues, there are others to stand with you and fight for a common cause. We tend to feel safe if you have a crowd by your side. But how many times have a large group of small investors been cheated by fly-by-night finance companies. Digressing, I recently watched a programme on Discovery which showed about the London subway bombers. They showed how people, when in a group, tend to follow the group irrespective of how very different they are. This can lead to radicalization of individuals when otherwise would be leading a simple holistic life.

Coming back to filing IT returns. What is the worst that can happen? Privacy! Your entire financial portfolio can very well be compromised. It is back to the same argument. Would you forsake convenience/ease for security?

I do plan to file my own returns from next year.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tennis rhetoric

Questions keeps popping up. Who is the greatest player of all time since the open era? Rod Laver who has achieved the Grand Slam twice, Bjorn Borg who has won the difficult double in French Open and Wimbledon the maximum number of times, Pete Sampras who has the maximum number of grand slam singles titles or is it Roger Federer who is fast catching up on Sampras's record. Here is another one. Will Nadal win a Wimbledon before Federer wins a French? Another. Did Serena Williams fake her injury during her Wimbledon fourth round match against Daniela Hantuchova?

I would call all these sensational media generated hype. The services of an astrolger or a mystic mind-reader with a clean track record are needed to get some of the answers. For others only God can tell.