Hyderabad-based firm makes filing tax returns everyone’s cup of ‘chai’

Back in the day when we had to describe an easy task we would generally say, “It’s as easy as one, two and three!”  And that’s how easy it is to file your tax returns on e-filing website (Chai Return), in fact as simple as sipping a cup of tea!

We at YourStory spoke with Mr. Saran Kumar, Co-founder of, to find out how they’ve simplified this seemingly painful task.


YS: What is all about?

SK: was started with the intent to make filing returns on your income tax as easy as drinking chai. It’s an online income tax return e-filing website founded in 2011 by Harsha and me. An individual needs to simply upload their Form-16 on the Chaireturn portal and we do the rest for them. We started off with just three employees, and we’ve now grown to 12.

YS: How did you come up with this idea?

SK: In India, people can approach a chartered accountant to help them out with their returns, but they’re unaffordable for the majority. The Income Tax Department’s procedure is long, complex and it can become really taxing if you don’t have any basic knowledge of the Tax Laws. The idea to make this simple occurred to me while I was working at Microsoft and a friend asked me to file his returns for him.

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YS: What is the market like for such an initiative? What is your target market?

chaireturnSK: As of assessment year 2012-2013, 1.38 crores income tax returns were filed by individual tax payers. These numbers clearly tell us the sort of business potential we can tap into in India. In our first year, we had about a 100 clients, and by the end of this year we’re aiming to reach 20,000 clients. We aren’t too scared of saturation as of now.

At present, our target is the individual tax payer working with multi-national companies in major cities. Our marketing channels are both online and offline. A lot of the other companies spend crores on advertising, but we’ve really focused on providing the best features. We’re also working on installing help desks at various companies’ premises to improve our reach in the market.

YS: Who are some of the other players in this space? How are you different?

SK: TaxSpanner and HR & Block are the biggest players in this space. We have some unique things that I think will help us gain some advantage over the others.

  1. Our process is very simple. The individual only needs to upload his Form-16 and basic information, and we take it from there.
  2. We have free features like Virtual Tax Drive (where the individual can save all his tax related documents at one place to easily retrieve it when needed) and Ask A Question (if an individual files his returns with us, he is eligible to ask any 5 tax related questions in the next financial year, and expect a fully detailed review from our tax experts).
  3. Our costs are extremely reasonable.
  4. We are strictly against selling client data.

YS: How have you been funded till date?

SK: We have been entirely self-funded. We are a sustainable business as of now.

YS: What is next in the pipeline for

SK: By 2016, we want to run a free call center for all the individual tax payers in India. The businessmen can afford personal auditors and CAs to help them; we want to make this service possible for every individual in the country. Apart from that, we just want to tap the potential customer and provide the best service possible.

YS: What great advice have you received over the past years?

SK: Startups always need an idea, a vision to implement the same, and patience. There should be a steady focus on providing more features year on year.

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