June, 27, 2017
The Business of E-Tax Filing
19 Jan
Posted by Madhumita Prabhakar

ClearTax was initially founded with a goal of making tax filings easy for individuals, SMBs and large corporations. However, currently, with a million end users and 20,000 CAs and employees using its service, it is now introducing a slew of B2B and B2C products such as helping users maximise tax savings and aiding startups in filing for incorporation at ease.

In 2011, Archit Gupta had a simple goal for his maiden venture, Cleartax; to build a navigable, easy-to-understand tax filing platform for  working professionals who were still learning the ropes on pay slips, PAN cards, Form 16S, ITR 4S and the like.

The Pivot

What began as a DIY platform for tax filing, grew into a silo of allied products when Chartered Accountants, SMBs, NRIs and the like took to the platform, and the number of filings began to double every year. The startup introduced a slew of B2B and B2C products and features such as a self-filing platform for business returns, determining next steps when a customer receives a demand notice from the Government, ClearSave, a robot advisory platform which helps users maximize their tax savings and ClearTDS, which helps SMB’s/CA’s generate Form 16s and prepare and file TDS Returns.

The most recent and first-of-its-kind among its launches is the ClearTax Startup, a program that equips entrepreneurs with the required tools to manage their business. In other words, for a flat fee of under Rs. 20,000, the company gives entrepreneurs access to a web interface with a step-by-step guide for company registration, financing, IP, government incentives, organization structure and the like.

“We want to focus on simplicity and design of our software and user experience, and encourage users to file their own returns instead of relying on chartered accountants or other offline channels.”

The External Factor

Although competing neck-to-neck with competitors such as Tax Mantra and MakeYourTax, Gupta is clear that its goal for ClearTax lies in creating a viable alternate for the tax department’s excel/ Java-based software. “We want to focus on simplicity and design of our software and user experience, and encourage users to file their own returns instead of relying on chartered accountants or other offline channels,” he says.

With a million end users and 20,000 CAs and employees using its service, ClearTax is generating revenues by offering paid and assisted plans to businesses and NRIs, and charging SMBs and corporations for using its products for TDS and Form-16 generation.

In fact, with the recent demonetization move by the Central Government, and the likely introduction of the GST bill, the founder notes that more customers have resorted to declaring their revenues and filing taxes more meticulously. “The demonetization move has pushed more people into the mainstream and that’s driving higher customer influx for us. With GST, we hope to capture at least 18 to 20 per cent of the market,” Gupta notes.

From the current 1.2 million tax filings (between April and August 2016), Gupta hopes that the lesson he learnt at Y-Combinator; of creating something people want; will lead him to record five million tax filings in roughly the next three years. “Of course, with the right team and products, we’re sure we’ll fulfill our goals as planned,” he states on a concluding note.


Year: 2011

City: Bengaluru

Concept: An online platform for individuals, businesses and NRIs to file their taxes

Investors: Y Combinator, Max Levchin, the PayPal co-founder, Neeraj Arora, business head of Whatsapp, Navan Ravikant, AngelList’s founder, Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital, SAIF Partners

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