How do you file your @IncomeTaxIndia returns in India without @UIDAI, when you live abroad? It's a saga, and like all good stories, there are several back-stories.
We are in December 2021.
So here is a year-end saga from January 2021 🧵
In Dec 2020, I suddenly remembered I had to file my taxes. Contacted my kind CA. Obviously, instead of partying in pajamas, I was working on my income-expense document. Thankfully, the date was extended to Jan 10, 2021. That's how my first blessing for the New Year went to my CA.
So now, I breezed through with the filing—almost.
CA says #Aadhaar number needed. I didn't have one. Why?
Let's take a detour to the year 2019 B.C. (Before COVID):
Until July 2019, I was away from my home base Mumbai.
In August 2019, I'd be moving to Tokyo for an indefinite period.
My CA had insisted that I need #Aadhaar, even though he agreed with my political beliefs against it. Keying in 12 zeroes or other funny digits wasn't doing it.
So, #Aadhaar enrollment. But where?
Erstwhile Aadhaar centers had shut down.
Tailor near shut center suggests post office.
Postman says only 10 forms are issued every morning before 10am. If I get it, 3-4 hours' wait to get it processed.
It's monsoon; no awning for rain shelter.
Next option? Bank.
There are 7 banks in my 1-km radius. None of them process it. #Aadhaar website suggests Dena Bank, based on my pin code.
Man doing #Aadhaar work tells me to come next week at 8am. But biometrics done only for 20 people/day.
If I miss it, then try next week.
After biometrics, #Aadhaar card would arrive at my residence after 30 days. That meant I would miss IT filing deadline of Aug 31, 2019.
A friend tells me to call up local ward office.
I call up H-E ward. All phone lines in ward office bldg are down, so calls cannot be transferred
Woman on the line at H-E ward office tells to get there at noon, when man doing #Aadhaar work arrives.
"Will he come today?"
"Not sure."
By now, it's 2 weeks before I leave India, and 3 weeks before IT returns deadline.
Someone tells me @HDFC_Bank processes Aadhaar applications.
I have an account @HDFC_Bank, so surely it would help? No.
"Go to our Fort branch," I am told at my home branch (Kalina).
But that's too far.
And why should I travel that far for this basic online service?
Isn't #Aadhaar meant to make lives digital & easier?
"You can go to Kalanagar branch. But you need appointment."
What's Kalanagar branch phone number? I'm given @HDFC_Bank's singular number that's listed on website for ALL of the bank's branches in Mumbai.
I need Kalanagar branch's phone number.
"Sorry, we cannot share."
Now what?
"Talk to your relationship manager."
I don't have a romantic relationship; I don't have a relationship manager.
It's 11am, raining. I head to @HDFC_Bank Kalanagar branch.
I wear lipstick & heels to be taken seriously (coz bank personnel treat people differently based on clothing)
I get to @HDFC_Bank Kalanagar branch; they say I cannot do it that day as I need appointment.
Ok, please give me your phone number so I can call & make an appointment?
"No, we cannot give you our number."
I see older people sitting, with despondent faces.
My trip was a waste.
I get appt for next week.
When asked branch manager about not giving phone number, she said, "We can't be on phone all day."
Customer service?
Next week, I go w/o lipstick or heels; gave my biometrics to the national database.
#Aadhaar enrollment number is used to file IT returns
I head to Japan. So beautiful; so bureaucratic.
After monsoon flood receded, Ma went to spend time with brother.
Maybe #Aadhaar card came in then? No clue.
Check @UIDAI website for status? Link doesn't work.
The national online database doesn't work!
What happened to my #Aadhaar?
Fast forward: July 2020.
Was stuck in India (was visiting in March 2020, but no flight out of India; then Japan shut out its foreign residents from entering).
So instead of wondering about my plants in my Tokyo apartment, I go to my post office in Kalina for my #Aadhaar mystery.
Postman: "I know your family since you were in college, so of course I would've kept it. But we can't keep such documents, so I may have sent it back."
"Do you have records? This was Sept 2019."
"Beta, look at our pile of work..."
I leave him alone as he sweats under his mask.
So #Aadhaar card is lost.
@UIDAI website link to check status still doesn't work.
My biometrics are somewhere in that $640 million system.
I make it back to Japan in Sept 2020.
My plants in Tokyo were alive; the eggs had exploded inside the refrigerator. I appreciate face masks.
This was a story about filing my IT returns. So back to where I started:
Jan 2021 & filing returns. I hold onto that PDF of #Aadhaar application as prized possession (=saved on computer, phone, emails to self).
CA uses same application number for filing IT returns, as in Aug 2019
I receive email for IT verification 2 weeks later: a one-page document that I need to sign & send by post to Bangalore (since my IT filing was not online, coz there was no #Aadhaar number)
Print it, sign it, post to Bangalore—that's what I did in Sept 2019 after arriving in Japan
But this is 2021. I take printout at konbini & head to @JapanPostHD_PR.
"Sumimasen, air mail suspended to India. You can try sea mail."
How long would it take? I ask via Google Translate.
Massive discussion among staff. I feel terrible for putting them through this inconvenience.
.@JapanPostHD_PR staff type on their palm-sized translator: "It can take anywhere between 4 to 11 months."
Sumimasen, and I head out.
Sumimasen, and they wait for me to leave.
How do I complete the process of filing @IncomeTaxIndia returns from Japan, with no update on my @UIDAI?
I reach out to "Indians in Tokyo" FB group. Was almost banned from the group in Dec 2019 when I'd suggested for us to demonstrate quietly outside Indian embassy in Tokyo, to protest #CAA.
Ignored all the "Proud to be Indian" posts on the group, because my desperation was winning.
I post on the group, asking for anyone traveling to India, and if they could carry this one important piece of paper. A woman responded.
She lived in the opposite end of Tokyo, in "little India". Never have I seen so many South Asians in Japan.
We go to a desi shop for chaai.
Chole Bhature on the menu; a treat after 2 years. I pack the envelope before her, for her ease. She cares less.
"Are you married? You live here alone?" she asks.
Litmus test passed that my envelop will reach India somehow.
She would be fly to Delhi the next day & reach at noon...
...then train at midnight to Varanasi to attend BIL's wedding after 2 weeks. Just as she would emerge from quarantine, she could sit at the wedding.
"How will you post my envelop? I know the chaos of a house where there's a wedding. I cannot afford for my envelop to be missed."
"Don't worry; my brother will come to Delhi airport to hand me jewellery. I'll give it to him to post it."
She said she can't be bothered to buy gifts each time she visits India. "There's a limit & they should understand."
I trust this process, to finally file my IT returns.
24 hours later, she landed in Delhi, had met her brother, was waiting for PCR result. I get swamped with my univ bureaucracy.
I almost forget about this when I received a mail:
"Your Income Tax Return Verification (ITR‐V) has reached us."
What's more: I get refund of a happy sum.
That cold January evening, I celebrated this mini and yet big win with sushi.
That's my 21st century, digital & privileged India saga.
PS: I still don't have #Aadhaar number. The @UIDAI website is still defunct.
PPS: More than a year, still no air mail from Japan to India.


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