By Bindisha Sarang
If you've missed the July 31 deadline to file your Income Tax Returns (ITR), you need not worry. The IT department has extended the date till August 31 and now you get a whole month to take care of this chore. But, with the number of e-filing portals available today, you won't really need a month to get rid of this boring task. It takes 20 odd minutes and you are good to go. Plus e-filing also comes with its own set of advantages. Says, Balwant Jain, Chartered Accountant and Chief Finance Officer, Apnapaisa.com, an online financial services portal, "e- filing is easy, quick and convenient. And, in case you expect any kind of refund, you get it sooner as compared to manual filing of returns. Now it's mandatory for those who have any kind of foreign assets or and income of more that Rs10 lakh to e-file you returns." So, here's a quick step by step guide to filing your returns.
Step 1: Gather all your papers and documents.
The online task usually begins with an off line task of gathering your financial documents. So, keep handy the Form 16 and Form 12 BA you've received from your employer, and documents relating to income from other sources like, savings account statements, public provident account pass book etc. Gather proof of any Advance Tax paid during the year and certificate of principle and interest you've repaid on your home loan or education loan.
Statements related to Mutual Fund investments and insurance policy papers along other documents related to investments in deductible instruments that fall under section 80 of the IT Act, like receipt of health insurance premium and any approved donations you've made. Step one takes the most amount of time. Once you are done with step one, rest is easy.
Step 2: Choose the portal.
The next step is to choose the portal. You could choose the IT department's online facility to file the returns. Alternately, there portals like Taxspanner.com, Taxsmile.com and Myitreturn, which allow you to e-file the returns and offer value added services are options you could consider. Broadly most portals offer a "basic package"- for those who have income from salary, interest income and any income form house property along with income from other sources. "Advance package", offers value added services like review of your file by a tax consultant and year round tax planning advice. There are special packages for professional and self employed individuals. Even Non Resident Individuals (NRI) have e-filing packages on the portals. Choose the package according to your requirement and you are good to go.
Step 3: Feed in the data, and preview the file.
With some portals you will need to type your personal and financial details manually. The best part is that even if you make a typing error the system will prompt you regarding the same. Ankur Sharma, CEO, Taxspanner.com says, ": You can simply scan and email the Form 16 and other financial documents and the software will fill the required form automatically." Few portals allow you to upload the documents instead. Some portals use a simple question-answer format, where you can answer the questions and your relevant IT forms get filled automatically. If all you papers are handy this step usually takes not more than 7 to 10 minutes. All sites let you review your form before you proceed with the payment. You could use your credit/debit card or net banking to make the payment. If you've done online shopping in the past, this step is a cake walk for you. Keep in mind that the tax department offers this service free; portals can charge anything between a few hundred rupees to a couple of thousands depending upon the package you choose.
Step: 4 The portals will e -file your return and send you the IRT form in a digital format.
You need to upload this form on the income tax department's website. You will receive an acknowledgment from them called ITR-V. If you've digitally signed your ITR form using the digital signature available on the portal, your e-filing of returns is done. You can buy the digital signature for a few hundred rupees at the portal. If you haven't used the digital signature, you will need to proceed to step number 5 to finish the process.
Step 5: Sharma says, "Download the ITR -V acknowledgment and take a print out in black and white and sign the form in blue ink. Signing the form in blue is an important step."
Once you've done this post it to the income tax department in Bangalore. The address is available on all portals. This is the final step and you don't have to worry about e-filing your returns for the next one year.