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A quick guide to filing income tax return for AY 2017-2018; you can do it online in less than 15 minutes

Tax is boring. And, what's more boring than tax? Filing returns. And, if you like it or not, we all have to get it done, so that we can get it out of the way, and do better things with our lives.  Here’s a quick guide to get your income tax returns (ITR) filed in less than 15 minutes.

Gather all your papers and documents

The online task usually begins with an offline 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 with 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.

Here’s a handy list:
1) PAN card

2) Aadhaar card
3) Form 16
4) Bank Account details
5) Investment details viz LIC, PPF, NSC, NPS, Health Insurance, and the like
6) Donations receipts
7) House rent receipts
8) Home loan details and loan certificates
9) Medical expenditure receipt on self or any other dependent
10 Tuition Fee receipts of up to 2 children

Choose the website

You can either chose to do it directly at the Indian Income Tax website or you can choose an online tax portal. If you choose the latter, make sure you choose a reputable one, as there are new ones mushrooming every few months. You don’t want to part with your financial data with some unknown entity running from a garage in a small town, do you?

On the government website, get it done your basic registration by filling the registration and creating login IDs, password, and all those basic steps. If you are choosing an online tax portal to choose a package based on your need. Broadly most portals offer a "basic package"- for those who have income from salary, interest income and any income from house property along with income from other sources. "Advance package", offers value added services like a 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.

e-filing your data in the online form

With some portals you will need to type your personal and financial details manually. If you make a typing error the system usually will prompt you regarding the same. 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 I-T forms get filled automatically. If all your papers are handy this step usually takes not more than 7 to 10 minutes. It took me less than five minutes to do so, as I used the documents upload mode and most of my data was populated on the form automatically. All I had to do was double check the details for any mistakes. Finally, once, you review the form, proceed with the payment credit/debit card or net banking to make the payment. It’s as easy as online shopping. In case you need to pay tax, you can make an online payment. The portal will redirect you to the on tax information network (tin) of the Income Tax Department, and once the payment is made, you will reach the portal again to continue the further steps.

Some websites let you file returns for free, while few others also give ITR filing free to women. For the love of God, make sure you go with the guys who have been around for a while. Pick the right form, and avoid silly mistakes. Read this for more on that.

Portals will e -file your return and also get the ITR form in a digital format

Upload Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) to complete the e-filing of your Income Tax Return. If you've digitally signed your ITR form using the digital signature available on the portal, your e-filing of returns is done. Remember, 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. If you do not have a DSC then you’ll be get an ITR-V form. You will receive an acknowledgment from them called ITR-V. If you have linked your Aadhaar to PAN, e-verification taken less than 10 seconds. The option is avaible on your dashboard.

Download the ITR -V acknowledgment

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 are done, post this to the income tax department in Bangalore. The address is available on all portals. Do this within 120 days of e-filing the Income Tax Return Form.

Updated Date: Jul 20, 2017 14:37 PM

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