My wife Subhadra Khaperde got a notice one not so fine morning from the Income Tax Department Central Processing Centre at Bangalore that the self assessment return that she had filed for the Assessment Year 2009-10 of nil tax was wrong and that she would have to pay a tax of Rs 2790. This re-assessment was done on the basis that Subhadra was a MALE and not a FEMALE and so not eligible for the higher income deduction limit admissible for females for that year. When she filed a rectification request saying that she was a FEMALE and not a MALE she got a letter from the Assistant Income Tax Commissioner rejecting her request because her gender was written as MALE in the PAN database!!
Subhadra then filed an application to NSDL for rectifying her gender in the PAN database and this was acknowledged and a new PAN card was issued. She thought that things would now sort themselves out. However, she was mistaken because the next year for Assessment Year 2010-11 she once again got a notice from the Income Tax department in Bangalore saying that she would have to pay Rs 2230 as tax as she was a MALE according to the PAN database. No amount of letter writing would satisfy the Income Tax Commissioner that this was gross injustice on their part. So she once again applied for changing her gender in the PAN database to FEMALE and once again got an acknowledgement and a new PAN card. But lo and behold once again the next year for Assessment Year 2011-12 she got a notice to pay tax of Rs 2530 as she was still a MALE according to the PAN database!!! Now Subhadra has received another notice that the original tax demand for Assessment Year 2009-10 is still pending and so she must pay that or face penal action. This when Subhadra could easily not have filed an Income Tax Return because her income is less than the mandatory limit above which returns have to be filed. She files the returns because frequently there are allegations by the State against her that she is in possession of illegal funds with which she undertakes anti-social activities!!!
One is left wondering what kind of people are the staff in the Income Tax Department. Two of the four Assistant Income Tax Commissioners under whose signature these notices have been sent are women. Yet they cannot see that the name and photo are both of a woman and this is a farcical mistake being made by the Income Tax Department. The department makes the mistake and then expects Subhadra to pay the tax. This is bureaucratic obtuseness of the crassest kind. Subhadra has now sent the Income Tax Department a reply saying that they had better stop this black comedy or she would have no other option but to approach the National Women's Commission against this blatant gender harassment by the Income Tax Department.
This might seem like a small issue but it is symptomatic of the insensitivity and stupidity of the bureaucracy in this country where even senior bureaucrats whom you would expect to be more sensitive also act like patriarchal idiots.