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Filing ITR online? Here's how you can check if your Form 16 is valid
July, 12th 2019

Income tax return filing deadline is fast approaching. July 10 was the last date for the employers to handover the Form 16 to their employees. Most employers must have received their Form 16 by now, the other might get it soon. If you received yours, ensure that it is downloaded from TRACES only.

The income tax department has made it mandatory for taxpayers to download both Part A and Part B of Form 16 from the TRACES portal. If your employer has generated the form using different software, you must insist on the employer to download Form 16 from TRACES.

TRACES stands for TDS Reconciliation Analysis and Correction Enabling System. It is a web-based application of the Income Tax Department where a PAN holder can view the taxes that have been deducted and deposited against their PAN during a financial year. It enables taxpayers to view challan status, Form 16 or Form 16A as well as viewing of annual tax credit statements (Form 26AS).

If you are filing your ITR online, it is important to ensure that you Form 16 is valid and the digital signature is authentic. A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is a digital signature in an electronic form used to authenticate digital or electronic documents. These digital signatures are issued by Certifying Authorities (CA) and are approved by Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA). Under the IT Act, 2000, DSC is given the same status as handwritten signatures. These certificates generally have a validity of 1 to 2 years and are in the form of a USB token.

Here's how you can check the authenticity of digital signature

Step 1. Open the document.
Step 2. Right click and select 'Validate Signature'.
Step 3. It should say the signature is valid and the document has not been modified after signing.(This means that the document has been signed.)

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Here's how you can perform further validation

Step 1. Click on 'Signature Properties", and then click on "Show Signer's Certificate".
Step 2. You should be able to see the details of the signer on the right-hand side. Click and see the email address/name of the signer.
Step 3. On the left-hand side, you should see the details of who has issued the certificate. It will be one of the certifying bodies in India, and at the top level, you should see CCA India. CCA India is the official certifying body for digital signatures in India.
Step 4. If you click on the "Trust" tab, you will be given an option to add the CCA India certificate to your trusted list of certificates.

Note that when you add the certificate to your trusted list, you should make sure that the "Certified Documents" option is selected. If you add CCA India to your trusted certificates, you can re-validate the signature and the software will tell you that the signature is valid.

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