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Income-tax department may allow filing of returns without digital signatures
June, 24th 2013

You may soon not need digital signatures to file income-tax returns. The income-tax department is looking at giving electronic pin (personal identification numbers) to taxpayers, which will make electronic return filing a hassle-free task.

The new system, which will benefit over two crore taxpayers in the country, would require a change in the Information Technology Act.

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"The proposal is in advance stage... We are hopeful that it could begin from the second half of this year," said a senior income-tax department official said.

The department expects changes in the Information Technology Act by September, the official said. However, individual taxpayers will not be able to benefit from this facility in the current year as their deadline for filing returns is July 31.

At present taxpayers have to submit a paper verification form ITR V if they do not have digital signatures even if they have filed electronic return to validate their return.

A return is considered filed and processed only after the verification form is received at the Central Processing Centre in Bangalore. Taxpayers have 120 days to send their verification form but as many as 10% of taxpayers fail to do so. Moreover, sometimes forms also get lost in the transit.

Under the proposed system, the department will generate an EPIN as soon as income-tax return is filed by a taxpayer sans a digit signature. The EPIN generated will have to be communicated to the Central Processing Centre, which will then process the return.

E-filing is mandatory for taxpayers having annual income of more than 5 lakh. Electronic filing has caught on with taxpayers and the department expects 2.75 crore returns this year. There are 3.4 crore income tax assesses in the country.

In keeping with the growing popularity of e-filing, the department is also introducing a new feature in electronic returns that allow taxpayers to get details of tax deducted at source once they feed in their permanent account number. Moreover, the department would also validate private software available in the market to ensure that returns are filed in proper format to ensure speedy processing and faster refunds.

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