Around 34 million income tax returns (ITR) were filed in the assessment year (AY) 2014-15. Of these, close to 1.7 million assessees filed their tax returns on the very last day of filing, 31 July, for the previous financial year (FY) 2013-14. Peak rate of receipts of return by the income-tax department per hour and per minute on the last day went as high as 150,461 and 2,901, respectively. For the current AY (2015-16), last date of filing the tax returns has been extended from 31 July to 31 August. This was because revised and new ITR forms were issued.
Ideally, one should not wait for the last date to file tax returns. There have been instances of people not being able to pay their taxes or upload their income tax returns due to system failures caused by too much last-minute rush. Moreover, when time is running short, chances of making a mistake only increase. So, if you have not filed your returns yet, don’t wait till the last day. Here are five routes of doing this.
Do it yourself
You can file tax returns yourself directly with the income-tax department. There are two ways of doing this—you can file physically or online on www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in. However, as per income tax rules, an individual assessee can file physical returns only if her annual income was less than Rs.5 lakh in the previous year and there is no refund claim. At the same time, “such a taxpayer should not have claimed any tax relief for taxes paid abroad, and should not have assets or income located abroad,” said Amol Mishra, head of tax, myITreturn.com.
If you are eligible and intend to file returns physically, get the relevant forms from the income tax office or download from its website. Fill these forms, look up the ward or income tax office under whose jurisdiction you fall on the I-T department’s website, and then submit there. “The taxpayer should take a stamped and numbered acknowledgment when the return is filed physically,” said Mishra.
Filing income tax return on I-T department’s website can be done in two ways—partially and fully online. In former, you need to download the relevant ITR form from the website and save it on your desktop. Fill up the return offline and generate an XML file and save it on the desktop. Then, register and create user ID and password by providing your PAN. Once you have created the account, log in and upload the return and submit.
The second process involves logging in with your user ID and password. Select the ITR form applicable to you and fill in the required details. The software is user-friendly; a brief description about each column is also available.
Once you have filled all the information, submit the form. In both processes, you will get an acknowledgement on successful submission. Earlier, if the form was filed online without a digital signature, the acknowledgement (ITR V) had to be sent by post to the I-T department’s central processing unit by the assessee.
This year, however, if you provide your Aadhaar number while filing returns, you do not have to send the acknowledgement. Filing returns yourself, offline or online, is free of cost.
Tax return preparers
Those who find it difficult to understand and file their returns, can take the help of tax return preparers (TRPs), who are appointed by the I-T department to assist income tax assesses in preparing and filing returns correctly. TRPs are appointed under the TRP scheme and are trained to file returns for taxpayers.
You can locate a TRP in your area from the Just enter the required information—state, city and pincode, and a list of registered TRPs in your locality will be displayed along with their TRP ID, name, address and contact details.
They are paid for each return filed based on the amount of tax paid by the assesse. The maximum amount that can be charged by a TRP is Rs.250, and this applies if no tax had to be paid. Otherwise, the higher your tax, the lower will be the TRP’s fee.
Make sure you have the TRP’s details such as identification number, name and counter signature on the ITR form.
Apart from TRPs, there are a number of intermediaries who are allowed to e-file your I-T returns. You can check the list of authorised e-return intermediaries on Many of them operate e-filing websites such as taxspanner.com, makemyreturns.com, cleartax.in, myITreturn.com, and Quicko.com.
These offer various plans; you can choose according to requirement. If you want to file on your own, you can use most of these websites to do so, for free.
“Of the total number of returns filed through our website, 80% are self-filed by individuals,” said Vikram Ramchand, co-founder and chief investment officer, makemyreturns.com.
“More people are taking control and filing return themselves. The number of such self-e-filers has increased to over 6.5 million in AY 2014-15 from a few thousands in 2011. The government estimates that over 10 million returns will be self-e-filed for AY 2015-16,” said Vishvajit Sonagara, founder, Quicko.com.
With the increased usage of smart phones and Internet, now there are mobile apps for filing returns as well, such as the ones by e-filing portals taxspanner.com, myITreturn.com and hellotax.co.in.
However, most of these mobile apps have the facility to file only ITR-1 or Sahaj (for individuals who have income from salary and interest). Some basic services such as tax calculators and refund status check are also available on these apps. Most of the services are free.
Portals such as taxspanner.com allows a taxpayer to send her Form 16 over WhatsApp, after which the rest of the process will be taken care of by their team.
In case of simple cases, say, where an individual has only salary as source of income, it is easier to self-file, and one does not need expert advice. “But where tax audits, tax complexity and multiple sources of income and deductions are concerned, one may need to consult a chartered accountant (CA),” said Sudhir Kaushik, co-founder and director, Taxspanner.com.
Charges or fee vary depending on the income source and complexity of returns. Usually, for simple returns, CA firms charge Rs.500-1,000 in cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. Charges increase with complexity of returns. Online service providers also have such experts on their panel, to assist tax filers. “They may offer CA assistance over the phone at one-third the price,” said Sonagara.
Filing tax returns before the deadline has various merits apart from avoiding the last-minute rush. If you have not filed yet, do so at the soonest. Use any of the services provided for this if you don’t want to self-e-file.