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Decoding e-filing of income tax returns
July, 31st 2010

E-filing or the process of filing income tax (I-T) returns through Internet has perplexed a number of people. Here is a primer to simplify things.

What are the ways in which I-T returns can be filed electronically?
There are three basic ways: The first way in which returns are submitted through digital signature, which is to be registered in advance. No further process is involved once the online submissions are made. The second option of filing is without a digital signature. in which case one needs to submit an ITR-5 form to the I-T department for the purpose of verification and authentication. One can also file returns through an intermediary for which the submission of ITR-5 is mandatory.

How to file returns on the I-T website?
One has to visit the department website and register, following which a username and password would be generated. The file containing instructions would be downloaded in addition to the software to assist in the filing of returns. Once the download is complete, you would be directed to fill the form. Once the returns are filed, an XML (Extensible Mark Up Language) file of the e-return would be generated, following which the return would be submitted electronically. If digital signatures have been used in filling of the form, one needs to take a print of a receipt acknowledging submission of return. In case, one has not used a digital signature or has filed the return through an intermediary, a print out of ITR-5 form needs to be taken, which should be filled and submitted to the nearest I-T office.

What information is needed for registering on the I-T website?
PAN number, a valid email account and an active phone number.

How does one know that the returns have been accepted online?
A message would be displayed on the screen that the return has been accepted. The receipt would contain an acknowledgement number, which would serve as the main proof of submission. In case, no receipt is generated, the returns should be filed again.

Is there any assistance helpline?
The I-T departments call centre can be accessed at 0124-2438000.

What is a digital signature? From where can one get it?
It is a digital code that is attached to an electronically transmitted document to verify the senders identity. For the purpose of filing returns, the I-T department has identified seven certification agencies: Tata Consultancy Services, National Informatics Centre, Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology, MTNL, Customs and Central Excise, Code Solutions Limited, Safescrypt and e-mudhra. One could get the digital signature with a validity period of one to two years.

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