On D-day, Chennai I-T office offers glimpses of an ideal govt office

shivani

Shivani Chaturvedi | August 1, 2014


Separate tables were demarcated for residents of different localities.
Separate tables were demarcated for residents of different localities.

Being the last of filing income tax returns, July 31 was an unusually busy day for all people dealing – directly or indirectly – with income tax: the chartered accountants, taxation lawyers and staff of the income tax department. In Chennai, the only set of people who had a nice time were the ones who should have been, well, the most harried: the taxpayers who had come to file their returns at Aayakar Bhavan, the income-tax head office in Chennai.

“So smooth was the work flow that I didn’t have to wait long. There were special counters and things were organised locality-wise,” said a friend, Sampathkumar, who filed the tax returns on the last day – like thousands of others.

So, separate tables were demarcated for residents of different localities – Nungambakkam, Adyar, Tambaram and so forth – so that people from respective localities could visit the allotted table and get their work done. Auditors, too, were sitting at the respective tables. The process helped clear the rush at the office and people did not have to go through harrowing time.

It seemed as if the income-tax office was holding a fair, or some festive event – the entire premises was decorated and had a pandal cover the open area. Volunteers were deployed to help facilitate taxpayers, and students could be seen doing voluntary work such as verifying PAN cards.

Surprise lay in store even outside – the parking zone, too, was well regulated, quite unlike normal times in this city. What’s more, a makeshift Sarvana Bhavan canteen was arranged on the premises.

The assessing officer (AO) at the income tax office, Helen, said, “The department makes such arrangements every year, especially in the last few days of filing return, to help taxpayers. We try and improve the services each year to provide a customer-friendly environment.”

One only wonders the office, and all other government offices and departments for that matter, run like this throughout the year. It’s hard to find such work culture and professionalism at government offices but then harried, harassed and nearly heckled at most government offices, we often forget this is how a government office is supposed to function. After all, they are meant to serve people.

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