Easy access to the Internet is prompting more and more Indians to pay tax and file returns online. Out of around 4 crore income tax (I-T) returns last financial year, 1.65 crore were filed online.
As the July 31 deadline for filing income tax returns approaches, let's look at the rules for online filing.
Last year, most taxpayers filed returns online voluntarily. This year is different. From assessment year 2012-13, e-filing is mandatory for those with annual income of more than Rs 10 lakh. However, one does not need digital signature to authenticate the tax return in such a case.
E-filing with digital signature is mandatory for those with business income of Rs 1 crore or more and professionals with income of Rs 25 lakh or more. Till last year, e-filing was mandatory if the figures exceeded Rs 60 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, respectively. E-filing is now mandatory for individuals and Hindu Undivided Families whose accounts have to be audited under Section 44AB of the Income Tax Act. For companies, e-filing with digital signature is mandatory.
Whether you want to e-file voluntarily or out of compulsion, you have several options. You can use the e-filing website of the income tax department or use intermediary websites that offer both free and paid services.
Most sites have easy-to-use wizards for generating returns. You need to answer some simple questions. If you are a salaried employee, you will need the Form 16 provided by your company. You will also need your bank statements, interest and tax-deduction certificates and other financial details not disclosed to the employer.
You can also use the tax return preparation spreadsheet provided on the I-T department website. Fill in the details to generate your return. On uploading it on the I-T department's e-filing website, you will get an Income Tax Return Verification (ITR-V) form. If you go through an intermediary site, the return is automatically sent to the I-T department and the verification form reaches your inbox. Print the verification form on an A4 sheet, sign it using a blue ball-point pen and mail it through Speed Post or general post to the I-T department.
FILING TAX RETURN USING THE I-T DEPARTMENT WEBSITE:
1. Select appropriate tax return form here: https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/portal/selectforms.do 2. Download the relevant Excel spreadsheet. (Excel is an electronic spreadsheet programme by Microsoft, the creator of Windows operating system.) 3. Fill your tax return form offline and save the XML file generated by the software. 4. Register with http://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in 5. Log in and click the relevant form on the left panel and select "Submit Return" 6. Now upload the XML file and print the acknowledgement/ ITR-V Form. (Don't have a printer at home? Save the document in the PDF format and get a printout.) 7. If the return includes digital signature, the process is over. Else, you get a verification form (ITR-V ). Sign it and mail it to 'Income Tax Department - CPC, Post Bag No - 1, Electronic City Post Office, Bengaluru - 560100, Karnataka' by 'Speed Post' or ordinary post within 120 days of submitting the return. 8. Once the tax department receives the physical copy of the ITR-V form, you will get an acknowledgement over email.