1. Background of OLTAS
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is responsible for administering various direct taxes through the Commissioners of Income Tax located in different parts of the country. The Commissioners of Income Tax are entrusted with the task of collection as well as refund of all kinds of direct taxes such as income Tax, Corporation Tax, tax deducted at source etc. under the Income tax provisions.
The Principal Chief Controller of Accounts (Pr.CCA) is the apex authority of the accounting organisation of the CBDT. Under the departmentalised set up, the Pr.CCA, CBDT have been assigned the functions relating to accounting of all receipts and refunds pertaining to the Direct Taxes.
Earlier, all direct taxes were collected manually by Reserve Bank of India or branches of State Bank of India. With an intention to increase the number of points for collection of taxes many other branches of public sector banks were also involved. Further to provide better service to taxpayers specific attention was given to accounting system of direct taxes. However, manual process of collection and accounting of taxes had many flaws and errors and also was extremely difficult to maintain.
Hence, in order to address issues associated with manual process of collection and accounting of direct taxes and also considering the technological revolution which replaced electronic means over manual process, Online Tax Accounting System (OLTAS) was introduced in June 2004. In order to make efficient implementation of OLTAS, the following bodies worked together:
- The CBDT
- The controller of accounts
- The Indian Bank Association
- The Reserve Bank of India
2. Understanding OLTAS
OLTAS is a system for collection, accounting and reporting of the receipts and payments of Direct Taxes from all kinds of taxpayers, online through a network of bank branches. The taxpayers’ data flows from banks directly to Tax Information Network (TIN). TIN is set up and maintained by the National Securities Depository Ltd., to manage all the data and information about challans between the tax department and the banks. OLTAS was introduced with the following objectives:
- Accounting of direct taxes online
- Collection of direct taxes online
- Reporting receipts and payments of direct taxes online
OLTAS was implemented in 3 phases and presently 32 public and private sector banks are authorised under OLTAS. In the initial stages, task was confined to data which was related to tax information. However, post April 2005, the project went online and now the banks were also required to reconcile daily tax collection with the information and data received by TIN from the banks.
3. Salient Feature of OLTAS
A. Introduction of a single copy challan with tear off taxpayer’s counterfoil
The taxpayer, as per OLTAS, has to use a single and common challan for the following:
- Challan No. ITNS 280 for regular income tax and corporate taxes
- Challan No. ITNS 281 for the deposit of TCS and TDS
- Challan No. ITNS 282 for the payment of direct taxes like wealth tax, gift tax, estate duty, hotel receipts tax, securities transactions tax and expenditure tax
- Challan No. ITNS 283 for payment of Banking Cash Transaction Tax and Fringe Benefits Tax.
- Challan No. ITNS 285 for payment of equalization levy
- Challan No. ITNS 286 for payment under Income Declaration Scheme, 2016.
- Challan No. ITNS 287 for payment under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016 (PMGKY)
B. Taxes can be paid either by visiting any bank branches that are authorised under OLTAS or online through net banking or by using debit card
C. Acknowledgment and unique serial number known as Challan Identification Number (CIN)
In case of payment at bank branch, tear-off portion from the challan is given to taxpayer after the collecting bank puts a rubber stamp on the challan and its counterfoil with a unique Challan Identification Number (CIN). CIN is a unique number containing the following information:
- 7 digits BSR Code allotted by RBI to the bank branch where tax is deposited
- Date of presentation of the challan (DD/MM/YY)
- 5 digits serial number of Challan in that bank branch on that day
Tear off portion of counterfoil is given to taxpayer immediately in case of cash payment and after realisation of demand draft or cheque in case of payments by DD/cheque. However, in case of online payment, challan is generated immediately after payment processing.
The collecting bank will capture the entire data of the challan and transmit it electronically to the Income-tax Department. The bank will send the paper copy of the challans alongwith printed scrolls to the Zonal Accounts Officers. The information received from banks will be used by the Department to give credit for the tax paid based on CIN.
The CIN is a proof that tax has been paid and has to be quoted in the Income Tax Return/ in further enquiry from income tax department if any. The Challans are available online at income tax website http://www.incometaxindia.gov.in or local Income Tax Offices.
D. Details of tax paid is available to taxpayers online
Tax payers are now able to view the tax paid by them by logging on to http://tin-nsdl.com
4. Advantages of OLTAS
- A single copy simplified challan is replaced by earlier quadruplicate challan
- Taxes can be paid from any location any time online
- It is easy for taxpayers to obtain an acknowledgment for taxes paid and its available as soon as bank authorises payment
- Further, the acknowledgement counterfoil with the rubber stamp containing the Challan Identification Number (CIN) assures that the payment is properly accounted for.
- All details and information about the tax payments are available online and can be checked easily.
- Taxpayer is no longer required to attach copies/acknowledgement of challan with the Return since only counterfoil is available with taxpayer. Mentioning the CIN details in the Income-tax Returns is sufficient compliance of enclosing proof of payment of taxes.
OLTAS has made the tax payment, collection and accounting easy and convenient for all stakeholders. This ensures better tracking and reduces chances of default.