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Home » Easy Guide to Filing Income Tax Returns: Criteria, Deadlines, and Benefits

Easy Guide to Filing Income Tax Returns: Criteria, Deadlines, and Benefits

Income Tax Returns: Providing Financial Information
An income tax return is a form that taxpayers in India fill out and submit to the Income Tax Department. It contains essential details about a taxpayer’s income, deductions, tax liability, and tax payments for a specific financial year. Filing an income tax return is mandatory for individuals who have taxable income in India.

Who Needs to File an Income Tax Return?
Understanding who needs to file an income tax return is essential to ensure compliance with tax regulations. Let’s explore the criteria for filing an income tax return:

  • Annual Gross Income Criteria:
    • If you are below 60 years of age, you need to file a return if your total annual gross income exceeds Rs. 2,50,000.
    • If you are a senior citizen (60 years or above but below 80 years), the threshold is Rs. 3,00,000.
    • For super senior citizens (80 years or above), the threshold is Rs. 5,00,000.
  • Additional Situations Requiring Filing:
    • If you have any income from foreign assets or foreign income, regardless of whether it is below the taxable limit.
    • If you want to claim a refund of excess tax paid or deducted during the year.
    • If you have incurred losses during the year and wish to carry them forward for set-off against future income.
    • If you are a resident individual and have assets or financial interests in entities located outside India or have signing authority in a foreign account.
    • If you have received income from property held under a trust for charitable or religious purposes, a political party, or a research association, among others.
    • If you are a company or a firm, irrespective of whether you have income or loss during the year.

Essential Documents for Filing Income Tax Return (ITR)
When it comes to filing your Income Tax Return (ITR), having the necessary documents ready is crucial. These are some essential documents you will require:

  • PAN Card or Aadhaar Card: A PAN Card or Aadhaar Card is mandatory to identify yourself as a taxpayer and to verify your income tax return online. You can also use your Aadhaar number instead of your PAN number for filing your ITR.
  • Form 16 is a certificate provided by your employer. It provides details of your salary and the amount of tax deducted at source (TDS) from your income. It consists of two parts: Part B and Part A. Part A contains TDS details, while Part B includes your salary breakup, exempt allowances, perquisites, etc.
  • Form 26AS: Form 26AS is a summary of all the taxes deducted on your behalf and paid by you during the financial year. It includes information on TDS, tax collected at source (TCS), advance tax, self-assessment tax, etc. You can access this form from the Income Tax Department’s website.
  • Bank Account Details: You need to provide your bank account number, IFSC code, and account type for the direct credit of any refund due to you.
  • Investment Proofs: If you have made investments or payments eligible for deductions under Sections 80C to 80U of the Income Tax Act, you need to provide the receipts or proofs of such investments or payments. Examples include investments in Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Savings Certificate (NSC), Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS), and payment of life insurance premiums.

Additional Documents
Depending on your income sources and types, you may need to gather additional documents. Here are a few examples:

  • Income from House Property: If you have income from house property, you may need to provide rent receipts, municipal tax receipts, and home loan interest certificates.
  • Capital Gains: If you have income from capital gains, you may need to provide details of asset sales and purchases, such as shares, mutual funds, and properties.

It’s essential to ensure you have the required documents based on your specific income sources and types.

Due date of filing Income Tax Return and Consequences
Understanding the due dates for filing income tax returns is crucial to avoid penalties and legal complications. The deadlines vary depending on the taxpayer category and the need for auditing. Let’s break it down:

  • For Individuals, HUFs, AOPs, and BOIs without audit requirements: The deadline for filing income tax returns for the financial year 2022-23 (assessment year 2023-24) is 31st July 2023.
  • For Businesses with audit requirements: The deadline for filing income tax returns is 31st October 2023.
  • For Businesses with transfer pricing reports: The deadline for filing income tax returns is 30th November 2023.

If you miss these deadlines, you can still file a belated return by 31st December 2023. However, there are consequences such as late fees and loss of certain benefits.

Importance of Filing Income Tax Return on Time
Filing your income tax return within the due date is crucial to avoid penalties and interest charges. Here’s why timely filing matters:

  • Penalty and Interest: Failing to file your return on time can lead to penalties and interest charges imposed by the Income Tax Department.
  • Compliance and Legal Obligations: By filing your return within the due date, you fulfill your legal obligations as a taxpayer and remain compliant with tax regulations.
  • Avoiding Legal Consequences: Timely filing helps you avoid legal consequences such as penalties and potential prosecution.
  • Refund Claims and Loss Carry Forward: Filing your return on time enables you to claim any refunds of excess tax paid or deducted during the year.It also allows you to carry forward losses incurred during the year for set-off against future income.

Penalties for Non-Filing and Late Filing
Understanding the penalties for non-filing and late filing of income tax returns can help you comply with the tax regulations. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Late Filing Fee:
  • If you don’t file your income tax return by the due date (31st July 2023 for individuals, HUFs, AOPs, and BOIs without audit requirements), you will have to pay a late filing fee under Section 234F of the Income Tax Act.
  • The fee is Rs. 5,000 if you file your return by 31st December 2023 and Rs. 10,000 if you file it after that.
  • If your total income is below Rs. 5 lakh, the fee is reduced to Rs. 1,000.
  • Interest on Unpaid Tax: If you have any unpaid tax liability after the due date, you will be charged interest at a rate of 1% per month or part month on the outstanding tax amount under Section 234A.
  • Loss Carry Forward Limitation: If you fail to file your return by the due date, you will not be able to carry forward losses, such as capital losses or business losses, for set-off against future income.
  • Legal Consequences:
    • Not filing your income tax return at all, even after receiving a notice from the income tax department, can lead to severe penalties and legal repercussions.
    • Prosecution under Section 276CC of the Income Tax Act can result in imprisonment for up to 7 years and/or a fine if your tax liability exceeds Rs. 10,000, and you have willfully failed to file your return.
    • Penalty under Section 271F of the Income Tax Act can be up to Rs. 10,000 if you have not filed your return before the end of the relevant assessment year.

To avoid these penalties and ensure compliance, it is recommended to file your income tax return within the due date or as soon as possible.

Filing Income Tax Return Online Made Easy
Filing your income tax return online has become a simple and convenient process. Follow this step-by-step guide to assist you:

  • Step 1 Visit the Official Income Tax Portal: Go to the official Income Tax Portal by typing https://eportal.incometax.gov.in/iec/foservices/#/login12 into your web browser.
  • Step 2 Log in to the Income Tax e-Filing Portal: Log in to the income tax e-filing portal using your user ID and password. If you don’t have an ID, you can create one by providing your Aadhaar and PAN details.
  • Step 3 Access the Income Tax Return Section: Navigate to the e-file section and click on ‘Income Tax Return.
  • Step 4 Select the Relevant ITR Form: Choose the appropriate ITR form number and Assessment Year (AY) from the drop-down menu. For example, if you have income from salary, house property, and other sources, select ITR-1 for AY 2023-2024.
  • Step 5 Fill in the Required Information: Enter the necessary data directly online or download the offline utility software (JSON) to fill in your details offline. You can also pre-fill some information from your Form 26AS, Form 16, or previous returns.
  • Step 6 Validate and Verify:Validate the information you’ve entered and check for any errors or discrepancies. You can also compute your tax liability and make any balance tax payments online.
  • Step 7 Submit Your Return: If you used the offline utility, convert the file to XML format and upload it on the portal. If you completed the process online, simply submit your return directly.
  • Step 8 Verify and Complete the Process: Verify your return using any of the available methods, such as Aadhaar OTP, net banking, or EVC (Electronic Verification Code). If required, send a signed copy of ITR-V (Acknowledgement) to CPC Bengaluru by post within 120 days of filing.

That’s it! You have completed the online filing of your income tax return successfully. Keep track of your return status and any refund updates on the portal.

Viewing and Verifying E-Filed Returns or Forms
How to View E-Filed Returns or Forms
To view and verify your e-filed returns or forms, follow these simple steps:

  • Access the Income Tax Department’s e-filing portal by visiting https://www.incometax.gov.in/iec/foportal/ and log in using your user ID (PAN), password, and captcha code.
  • On the dashboard, click on the ‘e-File’ tab and select ‘Income Tax Forms’ from the drop-down menu.
  • You will see a list of the income tax returns (ITRs) filed by you for different assessment years. Choose the relevant assessment year and click on ‘View Details’.
  • The details of your ITR, such as the filing date, verification date, ITR form, and more, will be displayed. Additionally, you can check the status of your ITR, whether it is submitted and pending for e-verification, successfully e-verified, processed, defective, and more.
  • If your ITR is processed, you can download the intimation order under section 143(1). This order provides a comparison of income and tax calculations as per your ITR and the department’s assessment.
  • In case your ITR is defective, you can download the notice under section 139(9). This notice will inform you about the specific defect that needs to be rectified within a given time limit.
  • If you are eligible for a refund, you can also view the refund details, including the refund amount, mode of payment, and payment date. To check the refund status, go to ‘Services’ and select ‘Refund Reissue’ from the drop-down menu.

Methods to Verify Your ITR
To verify your ITR, you have various options to choose from:

  • Aadhaar OTP: Generate a one-time password (OTP) using your Aadhaar number and linked mobile number. This OTP is valid for 10 minutes and can be used to verify your ITR online.
  • Net Banking: Log in to your net banking account and select the e-verification option. You will be redirected to the e-filing portal to confirm your verification.
  • Bank Account Number: Pre-validate your bank account number with your PAN on the e-filing portal. Generate an electronic verification code (EVC) that will be sent to your registered mobile number and email. Use this EVC to verify your ITR online.
  • Demat Account Number: Pre-validate your demat account number with your PAN on the e-filing portal. Generate an EVC that will be sent to your registered mobile number and email. Use this EVC to verify your ITR online.
  • Bank ATM: Swipe your ATM card at any bank ATM and select the option to generate an EVC for income tax filing. The EVC will be sent to your registered mobile number for verification.
  • Digital Signature Certificate (DSC): If you have a valid DSC registered with the e-filing portal, you can use it to verify your ITR online. You’ll need a USB token containing the DSC and the required driver software.

Tips to Avoid Errors while Filing Returns or Forms
To ensure a smooth filing process and minimize errors, consider the following tips:

  • Choose the Correct ITR Form: Select the appropriate ITR form based on your income sources and eligibility to avoid filing an incorrect or defective return.
  • Provide Accurate Personal and Bank Details: Enter your PAN, Aadhaar, address, email ID, and mobile number correctly. Ensure that your bank account details, such as account number and IFSC code, are accurate for timely refund processing.
  • Report All Incomes: Declare all your income from various sources, including salary, interest, capital gains, business or profession, and house property. Avoid omitting or concealing any income to prevent penalties or scrutiny.
  • Claim Eligible Deductions and Exemptions: Only claim deductions and exemptions under relevant sections, such as 80C, 80D, 80G, and 10(10D), if you meet the eligibility criteria and possess valid supporting documents.
  • Verify Tax Credits: Check your Form 26AS to ensure the accuracy of tax credits like TDS, TCS, advance tax, and self-assessment tax. Compare this information with Form 16 or Form 16A and other income statements to avoid discrepancies.

File Before the Due Date: Submit your return on time to avoid late filing fees and interest charges. Additionally, make sure to verify the return within 120 days of filing it to complete the process successfully.

FAQs about Income Tax Return (ITR):

What is Income Tax Return (ITR)?

Income Tax Return (ITR) is a form that taxpayers need to fill and submit to the Income Tax Department to report their income, deductions, tax liability, and tax payments for a financial year.

Who needs to file ITR?

Every person whose total income exceeds the basic exemption limit of Rs. 2.5 lakh (Rs. 3 lakh for senior citizens and Rs. 5 lakh for super senior citizens) in a financial year is required to file ITR. There are some other conditions that may also require filing of ITR, such as having foreign assets, claiming tax relief under a treaty, being a director of a company, etc.

How to file ITR online?

Taxpayers can file ITR online through the e-Filing portal of the Income Tax Department. They need to register and log in with their PAN, password, and captcha code. They can choose the relevant ITR form and fill it online or upload it after filling it offline. They also need to verify their ITR using Aadhaar OTP, EVC, digital signature, or sending a signed copy of ITR-V to CPC Bengaluru.

What are the different types of ITR forms?

There are seven types of ITR forms, namely ITR-1, ITR-2, ITR-3, ITR-4, ITR-5, ITR-6, and ITR-7. Each form is applicable for a different category of taxpayers and has different income sources and deductions.

What is the due date for filing ITR?

The due date for filing ITR for individuals and non-audit cases is 31st July of the assessment year, while for audit cases and companies, it is 30th September of the assessment year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the due date for filing ITR for FY 2021-22 (AY 2022-23) has been extended till 30th September 2022.

How to check the status of ITR?

Taxpayers can check the status of their filed ITR by logging into the e-Filing portal and going to My Account > View e-Filed Returns/Forms. They can select the relevant assessment year and view the details of their ITR such as acknowledgment number, date of filing, status, etc.

How to request a refund for excess tax paid?

If a taxpayer has paid more tax than their actual tax liability, they can claim a refund of the excess amount by filing ITR and showing the refund amount in the tax computation section. The refund will be processed by the Income Tax Department after verifying the correctness of the claim and will be credited to the taxpayer’s bank account through ECS or cheque.

How to rectify errors in filed ITR?

If a taxpayer has made any mistake or omission in their filed ITR, they can rectify it by filing a revised return under section 139(5) of the Income Tax Act. The revised return can be filed online using the same procedure as filing the original return. Submit the revised return before the end of the relevant assessment year or before the completion of assessment by the Income Tax Department, whichever comes first.

What are the consequences of not filing ITR?

Not filing ITR can attract various penalties and consequences such as late filing fees, interest on unpaid tax liability, prosecution for wilful failure to file ITR, loss of carry forward of losses, inability to claim refunds, and difficulties in getting loans, credit cards, visas, etc.

What are the documents required for filing ITR?

The documents required for filing ITR may vary depending on the type of ITR form, income sources, and deductions of the taxpayer. However, some common documents include PAN card, Aadhaar card, Form 16, Form 26AS, bank statements, investment proofs, rent receipts, interest certificates, capital gains statements, business financial statements, audit report (if applicable), and other relevant documents as per the nature of income and expenses.

How to link PAN with Aadhaar?

To link PAN with Aadhaar, taxpayers can visit the e-Filing portal and click on the Link Aadhaar option under the Quick Links section. They need to provide their PAN, Aadhaar number, name as per Aadhaar, and captcha code. Alternatively, they can also send an SMS to the designated number from their registered mobile number.

What is Form 16?

Form 16 is a certificate issued by the employer to the employee, containing details of salary income, allowances, deductions, and tax deducted at source (TDS) for a financial year. It consists of two parts: Part A and Part B, with Part A containing employer and employee details, and Part B containing salary details and tax liability.

What is Form 26AS?

Form 26AS is a consolidated annual tax statement that provides information on tax deducted or collected at source (TDS/TCS) on behalf of the taxpayer, advance tax or self-assessment tax paid by the taxpayer, refund received, and high-value transactions reported by third parties. It helps taxpayers verify their tax credits and claim them while filing their ITR.

What is presumptive taxation scheme?

Presumptive taxation scheme is a simplified scheme available to small taxpayers with income from business or profession. It allows taxpayers to declare their income at a prescribed percentage of their turnover or gross receipts without maintaining detailed books of accounts or undergoing audit. The scheme is optional and has different prescribed percentages for different categories of income.

What are the benefits of e-Filing ITR?

E-Filing ITR offers several benefits over manual filing, including convenience and ease of filing from anywhere, faster processing and refunds, accuracy and security of data, online verification and rectification of ITR, access to various online services and facilities provided by the Income Tax Department, and it also contributes to saving paper and the environment.

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