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Why seeing Form 26AS is a must before filing tax return and how to access it
April, 21st 2017

Income tax is deducted at source from your salary and on interest accruing on investments such as fixed deposits. Have you ever wondered how much tax you have paid in aggregate to the government for the financial year in question?

A quick look at Form 26AS will give you a clear picture of all the tax that has been deducted against your PAN number and paid to the government. Form 26AS is one of the crucial documents that a taxpayer should access before filing one's tax returns for the year.

"One of the most important documents needed for filing income tax return is Form 26AS. Just before filing of income tax returns, a taxpayer can know exactly how much tax has been deducted at source for the relevant financial year so as to derive the final tax payable for the year before filing income tax return," said Suraj Nangia, Partner, Nangia & Co.

The form contains details of taxes deducted and deposited by the deductor or paid by the taxpayer himself. It shows all tax payments like advance tax, self-assessment tax and tax deducted at source.

Chetan Chandak, Head of Tax Research, H&R Block India says the taxpayer has the duty to verify whether the deductor has deducted and paid tax on each transaction on which it was supposed to be deducted.

"In case the tax deducted shown in your TDS certificates (Form 16 or 16A) is not reflecting in your Form 26AS it means that the deductor has either not paid it to the government or it may be on account of an error or delay in filing TDS returns by the deductor. In such a case you can follow up with the deductor and get it corrected, preferably before filing your tax returns," Chandak told Moneycontrol.

He said that besides being a single-source summarised document to trace your tax-related transactions, Form 26AS also contains the details of your other financial transactions reported by various agencies via AIR reporting. Thus, it helps you in preparing your returns quickly and in the most correct manner. "If there is any discrepancy in your TDS or other tax credit claims based on physical Form 16 or 16A or tax challans, which does not match with your 26AS credits, the tax department may deny those claims and will raise the tax demand," Chandak said.

Also, any discrepancy between Form 26AS and claims by the taxpayer may result in refund claims being withheld. "In case of discrepancy, a demand notice may be issued by the Income Tax Department if such credit has been claimed by the taxpayer which did not reflect in Form 26AS. Unless the deductor correctly uploads the details of tax deductions, the deductee shall not be given the credit of such taxes. This often results into withholding of refunds and creation of infructuous demand," says Nangia.

There are two ways to access Form 26AS:
a)The more common way of doing so is by registering with TRACES (TDS Reconciliation Analysis and Correction Enabling System). Listed below are the steps to view the form;

Go to Income tax website - incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in and log on to your account;

Go to ‘My Account’ and click on ‘View Form 26AS’ in the drop down menu;

On confirmation, the taxpayer will be re-directed to the TRACES website;

Click on ‘View Tax Credit’ (FORM 26AS). The taxpayer will be required to enter the assessment year and format in which they would like to see FORM 26AS.

The form is password protected and the taxpayer would be required to enter their password. The password of Form 26AS is date of birth in DDMMYYYY format.

b)The other way of viewing Form 26AS is through net banking facility. However, Form 26AS can be viewed only if the PAN number is linked to the bank account. However, till now only select banks are authorised to provide Form 26AS.

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