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Filing your returns? Its wise to stick to I-T department's official site
July, 24th 2014

The last date for filing Income Tax (I-T) returns is just about a week away and it's time to get your documents in order to get started with the process. If you have a taxable income of over Rs 5 lakh, you must file the returns online. The process has become less complicated this year with the I-T department's official e-filing site (incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in) introducing the much simpler Java utility.

"It is user-friendly and faster, with separate tab for head of income and tax details being provided. Also provided is the option to pre-fill some personal and tax information such as PAN (permanent account number), name, TDS etc," points out Sonu Iyer, partner and national leader, human capital services, EY.

READ ALSO: Income tax office opens special counters

However, keep your bank statements, Form-16 issued by your employer and a copy of the last year's returns near you before you begin.

You then need to register yourself on the portal, where your PAN will act as your user ID. You can click on 'Quick e-file ITR' on the left hand side menu and follow the instructions after selecting the applicable form. Pay the income tax due, if any; verify all the information and hit the 'submit' key. Finally, if you haven't filed the return using a digital signature, you need to print the verification form (ITR-V), sign it using a blue ink and send it to the I-T department's central processing centre in Bangalore by ordinary or speed post, within 120 days of filing your returns electronically.

Pay and file

If you find the task daunting, you may also use private portals like taxsmile.com, cleartax.in and myITreturn.com that facilitate filing of return.

You can also check out mobile applications from BlackBerry and makemyreturns.com.

The private portals essentially offer two types of plans — one, where you are required to complete the process on your own and the other, where the portal's helpdesk assists you. If your return-filing is complex and detailed, consider opting for this assistance. But you will have to pay a fee of Rs 299-1,500, depending on the site and your requirements. Those earning less than Rs 5 lakh are offered this service for free.

"For those drawing an income of over Rs 5 lakh, we charge a fee. All calculation engines are embedded (filer need not know the tax laws) in the page, making it easy to file returns," says V Srinivasan, MD and CEO, taxsmile.com. In addition to these, the portals also offer value-added services like tax credit verification, ITR-V submission and refund tracking for a fee. "Our income tax return review service entails tax experts scrutinising the return prepared by users. This helps in ensuring accuracy," says Saakar Yadav, managing director of myITreturn.com.

I-T department recently put out a cautionary advice against using certain mobile applications without naming any, stating that one must use them at their own risk. So, ensure that you are using a legitimate portal or an application. Also, read the privacy policy of the portals before going ahead with the process to ascertain how the information collected will be handled by these sites and applications.

For example, check if the firm's policy states that your data won't be shared with third parties without your consent. Moreover, you have to consider its track record too. "You need to assure yourself that the sensitive information that you provide will not be misused. Therefore, do a background check to ascertain the return filing portal's reputation and its parent company's antecedents. Transacting through credible entities will provide some comfort," says Suresh Surana, founder, RSM Astute Consulting.

Considering that the new version of the forms on the department's portal is simpler, attempt filing on the official site first. Switch to private sites only if you find the process on the department's site cumbersome.

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