How to File Your Income Tax Return?
One of America's founding fathers famously said that in this world, nothing could be said to be certain, except death and taxes. In India, too, except for agriculture income, you pay taxes on all other income beyond a particular limit. You have to pay your taxes to the government depending on income level and the applicable tax slabs. The Income Tax department offers the facility of electronically filing your Income Tax Return (ITR) to simplify this process for you.
Filing your ITR
The prerequisite for filing an ITR is to register yourself on the IT portal, i.e. www.incometax.gov.in. It is a basic OTP-based registration process that requires your details like name, residential address, mobile number, PAN, etc. It also includes a self-verification feature, after which you can get yourself a password-protected account. The process of filing IT returns can be clubbed into the following seven significant steps.
Selection of the IT form applicable to you
The first step in ITR filing is ascertaining the ITR form applicable to you for filing your return. Once that is done, you can choose to file your returns in the following modes.
Only ITR 1 and ITR 4 can be filed online. In this mode, you can simply fill in your necessary details on the IT portal itself and proceed with the rest of your ITR filing process.
All IT forms can be filed in offline mode. This mode requires you to generate an XML file and upload it on the IT portal.
ITR Utility download from the IT portal
Follow these steps if you have opted for the offline route.
- Go to the IT portal
- Click on 'Downloads' located on the menu bar
- Select the applicable assessment year (AY)
- Download your preferred utility software - Microsoft Excel or Java, or JSON. IT department has discontinued Excel and Java utility from AY 2020-21.
Submission of your Details
In the offline route, you have to submit your income details in the form downloaded. Based on the calculations of the utility software, you can assess if you have to pay taxes or collect a tax refund. You also have to fill in IT challan details in this form. You can fill in the same set of more information on the portal itself and check your tax liability in the online route.
Validation of your Information
Once you jot details on the form, you must validate your information submitted to ensure no miss-out and all the mandatory components are entered. This step is applicable for online as well as offline modes.
Conversion of your file to XML Format
In the offline mode, the next step is converting your file to XML format by clicking on the 'Generate XML' option.
Upload of the XML file on the IT Portal
Upload this XML file onto the logged-in IT portal by first clicking on the 'e-File' option and then the 'Income Tax Return' option. The 'Submission mode' has to be stated as 'Upload XML' here. Then upload your XML file and submit it. Irrespective of whether you have opted for offline or online mode, in this step, you have to also submit required details here such as PAN, Assessment year, etc.
The final step to the ITR filing process, for both – the offline and the online mode, is verifying the ITR. You can do that physically or electronically within 120 days of e-filing the ITR. If you fail to verify it within this period, your tax filing will be invalid as per the IT laws. The ITR verification can be done online or offline. The offline route requires you to send a copy of your ITR through the post. Multiple online ways need generating an e-verification code (EVC) through Aadhar OTP, Bank Account, Demat Account, and Net-Banking.
The ITR filing process may seem too complex to comprehend for someone who is not well-versed with taxation in general. However, this is untrue. Technology has simplified the ITR filing and verification process to a great extent, such that you need to be no tax genius to figure it out yourself. But, if you still stumble somewhere, you can always lean on a subject matter expert for guidelines and quickly complete your ITR filing process.
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