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How to deal with income tax refund delays
July, 17th 2012

Delay or non receipt of tax refund is the biggest grievance of many taxpayers. Unintentional error in bank details, delay in processing of paper income tax return (ITR), change in residential address are among the common reasons for the delay.

"Some employees declare the details of the tax exemptions or deductions they are eligible to claim but fail to provide the relevant documentary proof to the employer organisation within the timeframe prescribed by the employer," says Vaibhav Sankla, director, H&R Block India. "Further, deduction on account of donation is not considered by the employer while deducting tax on salary income. This deduction then can be claimed at the time of tax return filing," he adds.

When do you qualify for a refund?

Most companies ask their employers to declare the details of their tax planning at the beginning of the year, but some employees fail to make such declaration and it leads to higher tax deduction, which in turn results in tax refund.

The deduction on interest on housing loan is reflected in the Form 16 based on the provisional certificate obtained from the housing finance company/bank during the financial year. For FY 12, since the interest rates were on the rise, the final certificate would show a higher amount of interest to those who availed of variable rate loans. This too can be one of the reasons for tax refund.

Some individuals pay advance tax on the capital gains they make during the year. In some cases it so happens that they incur some capital loss later in that year. "Or in some cases the tax payer realises that the actual amount of capital gain is less (due to indexation, deductions u/s 54/54EC/54F, incorrect cost calculation etc.) than what he initially computed while paying the advance tax," says Vineet Agarwal, director, KPMG.

E-filing speeds up refund process

The processing time for tax refund is not standardised. It may be processed as early as 20 days or it may take up to two years in some cases. But starting this year, tax experts expect some speedy processing of refunds. This is because of the CBDT circular, which mandates individuals earning an annual income of 10 lakh and above to file their income tax return (ITR) online.

"To get the tax refund without any hassle, it is advisable to file online tax return. The taxpayer should also file Form 30 with the tax officer within two years from the close of the financial year," says Sonu Iyer, tax partner and national leader, human capital mobility services, Ernst & Young.

"When an individual files his/her tax return offline, one has to track the status of the refund by contacting the help desk of SBI at 080-26599760 or contacting the Aaykar Sampark Kendra at 0124 2438000. Alternatively, an individual can follow up, preferably in person, with the assessing officer of the jurisdiction where the return was filed," says Vineet Agarwal.

But this process is very cumbersome. However, if you filed your ITR online, the ITR is processed faster. As a result, it ensures quicker refund payments.

Steps for a faster refund

"In order to ensure a hassle-free and timely refund, you should provide correct details, such as the bank account number and MICR code of the bank branch, in the tax return. This will facilitate direct credit of the tax refund amount in the tax payer's bank account," says Vineet Agarwal.

In case of refund through cheque, one should ensure that along with the account details address mentioned in the return is correct. If you receive a cheque after its expiry, you should approach the concerned tax ward / circle where you have filed your return for re-issue of refund cheque.

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