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This season, e-file your tax returns

Parvatha Vardhini C. &
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Dreading the queues at Aayakar Bhavan as July 31 approaches? Forget the half-a-day leave and the long drive in the sun! Opt to e-file your returns.

E-filing is becoming quite popular, going by official statistics. About 62 lakh ITR-1 and ITR-2 returns, applicable predominantly to individuals with salary/pension, income from house property, capital gains and other sources were e-filed last season. This was more than double the number filed the year before.

E-filing has become mandatory for those having income above Rs 10 lakh from this year. This means that many more among you will now join the bandwagon.

Many ways

For the tech-savvy, incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in is where they should go. If you know a bit of taxation laws and have done the number crunching too, you can easily file your returns in about half an hour. A step-by-step guide to the e-filing process is available on the home page.

For others, there are several Web sites that help you fulfil your obligation to the taxman. Taxsmile.com, for example, lists various ways in which you can e-file your returns with them. One way is to upload your Form 16 on their Web site along with details of additional income and investments and get your return prepared. If not, you could also mail your Form 16, using which Taxsmile.com would prepare your return.

A third way is to do it yourself on their Web site, where you can fill in the details. Once you review your calculations, you can authorise them to e-file. The Web site also provides group-filing options for family and friends through a single login.

An innovation for this season is the automated tax filing machine, similar to an ATM. Taxsmile.com is setting up about 50 kiosks in the six metros across the country, where you can walk in, scan your tax documents and get your returns prepared through this machine.

Besides, Taxspanner.com has set up about 1,500 ‘tax spanning’ stations across the country where tax professionals will assist you in preparing and filing your returns. You can also e-mail your details to them in the format specified on their Web site and get e-returns filed. Taxspanner.com has an application for the mobile phone ( m.taxspanner.com) too.

This apart, banks and brokerage firms have set up shop with e-return intermediaries. While ICICI Securities has tied up with Taxsmile.com, Funds India has joined hands with Taxspanner.com.

Charges

While you can file your returns for free if you hit the Government’s e-filing Web site, using the services of an e-return intermediary entails charges. Myitreturn.com, for instance, has three packages — Standard for Rs 199; Premium for Rs 399; and Professional for Rs 799.

Those having income only from salary, house property and other income can go for the Standard package, while those who trade in shares or have capital gains or those who run small businesses fall under the Premium/Professional category. Most Web sites also offer services for those who are on assignments abroad or for NRIs. However, concessions are available. Taxsmile.com offers discounts for group login. Funds India offers free e-filing of returns if you open an account with them, which is free.

Value-added services

Apart from helping you file your returns, these Web sites also provide other services round the year. These include tax planning for the next year, a dedicated CA to look into your financials, tracking your return processing/refund status, phone-/e-mail-based response to queries, providing online vaults to tax-related documents, and so on.

While some players include these as part of the package, some offer these as standalone additional services for a fee. For example, signing up for Taxspanner.com’s Salary TaxOptimizer plan (Rs 2,499) will provide all the all the above services in addition to filing your returns.

Apart from this, some help in revising and filing rectified returns and getting digital signature certificates, if needed. PAN card-related services such as updating address, reprinting if lost and so on are also undertaken for a charge.

Advantages of e-filing

E-filing is not only convenient but also more advantageous than manual filing. It helps many employees who go on short stints abroad to file their returns on time, irrespective of their presence here.

Two, intermediaries serve as a digital storehouse for your records, freeing you of the burden. Three, the processing of refunds is faster for electronically filed returns. Four, unlike manual filing, where confidentiality tends to take a back seat, e-filing is absolutely safe.

vardhini.c@thehindu.co.in


If you don’t want to do it yourself, then there are portals that will do it for a fee.


(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 22, 2012)
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