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How to e-file your tax returns

Parvatha Vardhini C | Updated on June 27, 2018 Published on June 27, 2018

It’s a breeze, and you can DIY. But if you’re not feeling on top of it, there’s also help at hand

In line with the broader societal trend towards digitalisation, the tax department too has caught on to the digital wave. Today, only an individual aged 80 years or more or an individual or an HUF whose income does not exceed ₹5 lakh and who claims no refund in the return of income can file returns manually. All other assessees have compulsorily to e-file their returns. Here’s how it is done.

Do It Yourself

If you know a bit about tax laws and are internet-savvy, you can easily file your returns on your own on the tax department’s website (incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in), free of cost. You need to register yourself and obtain a user ID (which is your PAN) and generate a password and upload your return.

If you have your income details ready, it’s all a breeze. The website scores well on convenience as it provides access to all the other information you will need to file your returns, in one place. Links to access your Form 26AS, which has details of the tax deducted at source (TDS) and tax collected at source (TCS) from your income and e-pay self-assessment tax are available.

You can also view your earlier returns, their processing status, outstanding tax demand if any, refund status, ITR V (Acknowledgement) receipt status and details about your assessing officer.

In recent times, the department has also added a few features to render the website more user-friendly. It has provided a ‘quick file’ option for simpler returns such as ITR 1 and ITR 4. Choosing this option enables pre-filling of all possible fields in the ITR form, from the PAN database or previous returns filed. This helps you save time while filing the return.

To increase security, a second-level authentication for your login has been introduced through a feature called the ‘e-filing vault’. This feature can be enabled under the ‘profile settings’ tab when you log into your e-filing account. Once you do this, you can choose to log into your e-filing account through options such as net banking and Aadhaar-based OTP, instead of just the user ID and password.

To make the e-filing process completely online and save the hassle of posting the ITR V Acknowledgement form through snail mail, electronic verification has also been introduced. Once your return is filed online, the electronic verification code or EVC, which is a 10-digit alpha-numeric code, can be generated.

You can use your net banking account, debit/credit card at an ATM, bank account number and IFSC code, Aadhaar number, demat account number or registered mobile number and email ID (under certain conditions) to generate the EVC. A list of participating banks for the first three options is available on the e-filing website.

Assisted filing

If you need assistance to file your returns, you can approach your neighbourhood Chartered Accountant. Besides, Tax Return Preparers or TRPs (trpscheme.com) can also do the job for you. TRPs are graduates in commerce/ economics/ statistics/ law, who have been chosen, trained and appointed by the government to help assessees prepare their tax returns.

The website helps you locate the TRP closest to you in your State, city and pin code. You can also fill up an online form to request a TRP to visit your place at a scheduled time to help you file your return.

For new assessees, the remuneration payable to the TRP is 3 per cent of the tax paid on the returns prepared and filed in the first year (subject to a maximum of ₹1,000), 2 per cent in the second year and 1 per cent in the third year. For old assessees, it is ₹250.

You can also use the services of e-filing intermediary websites such as ClearTax, Taxsmile, TaxSpanner, and myITreturn. Some portals offer the facility to file your return through a mobile app too.

While some of these service-providers offer basic self-filing of returns for free, many have different packages that not only assist you in filing returns but additionally provide other value-added services for a fee. The prices of these packages range anywhere from ₹250 to over ₹5,000 depending on the nature of the services provided.

For instance, many websites offer expert follow-up assistance to customers in case they are faced with issues such as rectification, demand notice, and so on., after they e-file their returns.

Most portals offer a chat facility with Chartered Accountants to clarify your queries. They also provide tax planning services. Websites such as Taxsmile provide an online documentary vault for safekeeping of your tax/income-related documents.

Since these tax portals have invested adequately in security, it’s safe to use them. TaxSpanner, for example, boasts 256-bit SSL encryption.

Published on June 27, 2018
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