Business Today

Online relief in taxing times

twitter-logo Manu Kaushik        Print Edition: June 26, 2011

Taxspanner is a typical garage start-up. Three engineers attended the same college in Delhi before going abroad to work with large information technology firms, saved money and then huddled together back in India to start their own venture.

Taxspanner
Founded in: 2007
Founders: Ankur Sharma, Sumit Grover, Manoj Yadav, Sudhir Kaushik
What makes it cool: Makes filing tax returns easy. Has acquired 250,000 clients in just four years
Rating: 6.5
Sahad's take: Market opportunity looks good. However, there are a number of tax filing websites. There will also be competition from the neighbourhood accountants. May need a diversified strategy to succeed.
Ankur Sharma, Manoj Yadav and Sumit Grover hit upon the idea of starting an online portal to help taxpayers file their returns and roped in chartered accountant Sudhir Kaushik later. "As part of its e-governance initiative, the Income Tax Department was trying to build e-filing systems in 2006," says Sharma, Taxspanner's CEO. "E-filing by companies had already begun, but not by individuals. Looking at the sheer size of the market, we decided to take the plunge." India has around 40 million taxpayers and the number is rising by 15 per cent annually.

With an initial investment of Rs 40 lakh, the portal began operations in July 2007. Within a year, over 25,000 individuals had filed their returns through Taxspanner. The number has been doubling every year since then and currently stands at 250,000. "For a typical employee, filing tax returns is often a cumbersome task," says Sharma, adding: "Our clutter-free website takes away the pain and reduces the time taken."

Though there are around 10 similar websites currently, Taxspanner is the only one that offers online tax filing for selfemployed individuals as well. It also has a strict privacy policy that prevents cross-selling client information to financial services firms, as many of their rivals do to increase revenues. Also, it has created an online depository where users can store their tax-related documents for a maximum of eight years.

Taxspanner is also targeting corporate clients in a big way. It has tied up with over 500 companies such as Punjab National Bank, American Express, Google and Accenture, and plans to double the number by 2013.

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