Personal Finance

Options galore to file IT returns

Parvatha Vardhini C | Updated on July 29, 2019 Published on July 28, 2019

Choose a method based on your knowledge on taxation and the services you need

Always been filing your tax returns through your neighbourhood chartered accountant? The extension of the return filing deadline to August 31 this year gives you time to explore other ways to do it. There are a few choices, ranging from a do-it-yourself option to approaching a Tax Return Preparer or an online intermediary, depending on how knowledgeable you are in taxation and financial matters and what kind of services you are looking for.

DIY approach

If you are internet savvy and also know a bit about taxation, a month’s time is good enough to explore the Tax Department’s e-filing website — incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in — and file returns on your own. You just need to register on this portal, obtain a user ID (which is your PAN) and a password to log in and then upload your return. And the department doesn’t charge you a penny for the process.

If you have your income details ready, filing the return is not challenging. The website is quite convenient to use as it provides access to all the other information you will need, in one place. A link 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 the links to e-pay self-assessment tax as well as to e-verify the returns are available. You can also view your earlier returns, their processing status, outstanding tax demand, if any, refund status and ITR V (acknowledgement) receipt status.

To make the process less time-consuming, some of the number crunching (tax calculation) is also automated. Also, partly pre-filled returns with details captured from the PAN database, e-filing profile, earlier ITRs as well as Form 26AS are available. In the recent Budget, the Finance Minister promised to further expand the scope of pre-filling.

Over the past few years, additional features have been introduced. For instance, to increase security, a second-level authentication for your login, through a feature called the ‘e-filing vault’, is available. Once you enable 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. Service requests such as requesting for reissue of refund, in case there are any problems in the process, etc, were added recently. If you have any grievances, you can raise them and get them addressed through the e-Nivaran facility in your window.

Going with intermediaries

If tax is not your cup of tea and you’d rather have someone else file your return, you can use the services of several intermediary websites. These portals collect all required information from you, compile them, calculate your tax liability and file the return in the Income Tax Department’s portal on your behalf. ClearTax, Taxsmile, TaxSpanner and myITreturn are some such portals.

The good news is that, most of these intermediaries offer free e-filing for simple returns. So, if you have only salary income, you just have to upload your Form 16 in the website of the chosen intermediary and then answer a few queries. Voilà, your return will be filed.

Taxsmile, for instance, offers free return filing for those with income below ₹5 lakh. ClearTax claims to file such returns in less than seven minutes. If you have income from multiple heads, you can go for assisted filing, where experts help you navigate your way through.

Depending on the sources of your income, various websites have different fee structures for assisted filing. TaxSpanner, for example, has assisted filing options from ₹599 to ₹5,500, based on the nature of service provided. Also, many websites offer several value-added services apart from filing returns, which you can benefit from throughout the year. For instance, expert follow-up assistance to customers is available in case of issues such as rectification, demand notice, and so on that come up after return-filing. Most portals offer a chat facility with chartered accountants to clarify your queries. Tax-planning services as well as online documentary vault for safekeeping your tax/income-related documents are available. Since these tax portals invest adequately in security, it’s safe to use them.

TRPs

You can try government-appointed Tax Return Preparers (TRPs) as well. Trpscheme.com will help you locate a TRP closest to you. 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 a 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. Choosing this option, though, means that you may not have year-round service, advice or access.

Published on July 28, 2019
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