New Delhi: As the July 31 deadline for filing income tax returns looms, there is usually a huge rush among the taxpayers. To avoid the long queues and complications, most people prefer to delegate the task to tax consultants or chartered accountants.
But filing of income tax returns online has emerged as a better option and is becoming increasingly popular. The number of electronic tax returns almost doubled to as many as 16.4 million in 2011-12. This is slightly less than half the 35 million-odd returns filed for the year.
E-filing of return is easy, fast and secure. You can file your return online without much bother if you take care of a few things. There are two ways of filing the return online.
One way is going to the Income Tax Department website incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in.
Filing of return through this website is free of cost, while e-return intermediaries charge a fee of around Rs.250 to Rs.1,000, depending on the kind of service you avail of.
The popular e-return intermediaries are TaxSpanner.com, Taxsmile.com, myITreturn.com, Taxyogi.com, and taxshax.com.
"If you are comfortable in calculating your taxes and using computer and internet, you can file the return free of cost through the Income Tax Department website," said Ankur Sharma, co-founder and chief executive officer of TaxSpanner.com, a leading e-return intermediary.
He said the e-return intermediaries help in calculations and do other jobs on behalf of the tax payers.
"E-return intermediaries provide the same service as you get through your tax consultants or chartered accountants. The only difference is we are doing it online," Sharma said.
He said the online filing of return is easy, secure and cost effective. "Even if you do it through intermediaries, the fee charged is much less. All the data is secure. If we reveal the data to anybody like insurance and marketing companies, our licence will be cancelled," he added.
For e-filing of return through the Income Tax Department website, you can download the relevant form from the incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in website. You need to chose the form from ITR 1 to 7 depending on your source of income. If your sources of income are only salary/pension, interest income and income/loss from one house property, then you can use ITR 1.
The website explains who should use which type of form (ITR 1 to 7). Select excel version of the form and enable it with proper software. You can download the return preparation software from the department website free of cost.
Fill up your return offline and generate an XML version of the file.
Now once again go to the e-filing website and choose the assessment year for which you are filing the return. For example, if you are filing the return for financial year 2011-12, then the assessment year will be 2012-13. Register yourself on the website and upload the XML file.
The moment you upload and send the form, you will have access to an Income Tax Return Verification form (ITR-V), which is the acknowledgment form.
Take a print out of that form, sign it and send it to the Centralised Processing Centre, which is based in Bangalore, through ordinary post or speed post within 120 days of transmitting the data electronically. Registered Post or Courier is not accepted. The centralised centre is managed jointly by the Income Tax Department and Infosys Technologies.
If you want to file through an intermediary, you can go to its website. The intermediaries have various packages, choose the one which suits you. Provide them the data, and they will do most of the job.
The Income Tax Department expects a sharp jump in electronic filing of return this year. "Last year, it almost doubled. We are expecting similar growth this year as well," said a senior Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) official, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
"Processing for e-filed return is faster and taxpayers get their refunds, if due, quickly."