Tax filing online: Some frequently asked questions

Want to file your I-T tax returns online? Here is a review of your various options

E-filing and e-payment have garnered interest among not just individual taxpayers, but also corporate taxpayers, for service tax, excise tax and various other levies.

The government has made e-filing mandatory for assessees who have paid total service or excise tax of Rs10 lakh (or more) in the preceding financial year. E-filing for individuals is not mandatory, but no one can predict the future. How should you go about filing returns if you were to do it all by yourself?

There are some websites dedicated for individual e-filing. They have services for tax advisors to undertake tax filing for their clients. Some also cater to small and medium businesses' tax needs. Taxspanner.com offers a professional review for individual tax filing. Many allow use of their website to complete the tax form for free.

Payment to the website will be needed to file the tax returns or to create a file that can be uploaded to the Income-Tax (I-T) Department's website.

E-filing can be done through chartered accountants (CAs) as well, a few of whom may be authorised 'e-return intermediaries', as designated by the I-T Department. If the CA is not an authorised e-return intermediary, he can also avail the services of websites (which are meant for individuals) that we are discussing here.

Individuals can carry out e-filing by themselves, in a couple of ways. You can file directly with the I-T Department by creating a personal login account at incometaxindia.gov.in. However, there is little online help or customer service available and the software is not really user-friendly.

You can also use private online e-filing intermediaries, which help you with the filing process with a real-time help desk, by means of a live chat or over the phone. The costs for these services range from nil to Rs800 for filing one person's returns.

Some websites like taxshax.com, taxmunshi.com, elagaan.com and taxyogi.com are not authorised e-returns intermediaries. However, they can help you complete your tax returns and output the tax return file that you can upload at incometaxindia.gov.in.

A few sites like taxyogi.com provide value-added services like tax-planning tips for the future and live chat. Moneylife visited the site for a week, but live chat did not work-maybe because it is still not the season for tax filings. Websites like taxsmile.com, taxspanner.com, taxeworld.com, myitreturn.com and easyitfiling.com are authorised e-return intermediaries. They can upload your tax return file to the I-T Department, once you authorise them to do so, after completing the tax returns on an online basis.

Easyitfiling.com is a website that has been developed and maintained by an association of software engineers, who have more than 10 years' experience in information technology. This site enables all individual taxpayers to file I-T returns online (incredibly, for free).
Taxspanner.com has an excellent tutorial to make the process easier. Some portals allow you to email a scanned copy of your Form 16 and other documents so that they can fill the form on your behalf, but data sent by email is unsecure.

Comparisions -
Typos are possible, when so many numbers are involved. The portals have a 'preview' option to verify the details that you have filled in. In some cases, the software even detects a mismatch in numbers and prompts you to carry out the correct option accordingly.

If you are entitled to a tax refund, you need to fill up the required details in the I-T returns (ITR) form. You would either have to provide your bank details or request payment by cheque. Once approved by the I-T Department, the refunded amount is directly credited to your bank account, if you have mentioned your bank details. Otherwise, you will receive a cheque in due course.

Independent of whichever method you use, if after inputting your data, the software calculates that you owe taxes, you will have to pay this tax before you can proceed with the filing. This payment can be made only at an authorised bank. The other option is to visit tin-nsdl.com, select the required chalan and make a payment through Internet banking.

Once you receive a chalan identification number, acknowledging your payment, your taxes are paid.

E-filing can be done with or without a Digital Signature Certificate (DSC). If you want to e-file with a DSC, you have to procure it after submitting attested documents such as ID proof and application forms.

This will cost you between Rs400 to Rs1,500. It takes a minimum of five working days to get one shipped to you. At present, there is no other use for a DSC, other than for signing your e-returns. So, there is limited utility of a DSC today. It is only issued for validity period of one or two years. If you use a DSC, you will not need to physically send the ITR Verification (ITR-V).

The I-T Department has made the ITR-V deposit process very convenient for assessees.

If you do not use DSC, you will have to mail the signed ITR-V to the Income-Tax Department CPC, Post Bag No-1, Electronic City Post Office, Bengaluru-560100, Karnataka, within 30 days after the date of transmitting the data electronically.

Don't forget that whenever you share sensitive financial information, you carry an inherent risk. Always check for the security certificate and use the same amount of caution as you would have used while banking on the Net.

Comments
Nikhil Patil
6 years ago
Actually, these small tax efiling sites gives better user experience as they often have dedicated professionals who will be monitoring individual filing through their websites. Case in hand is my recent experience with http://hamaratax.com which is a not so well known firm, but as a very good experience for me. While filing with hrblock, the questionnaire look confusing to me, neither are any help options except their useless contact numbers.
sandeep butaney
1 decade ago
Dear Sir,

I require your genuine help now.I had purchased a property in 2004 for Rs.400000 (Rupees Four Lacs Only) and have sold the same on 08/03/2012 for Rs.725000 (Rupees Seven Lacs Twenty Five thousand Only). I was informed that if I keep the same with BOI under their Capital gain tax scheme for five years and once the period is over I would be able to utilise the money as it would be free from tax.

Please advice.
Sanjeev
1 decade ago
I have filed my returns using http://www.taxnirvana.com and trust me it was very simple... thankyou

http://www.taxnirvana.com

A one stop solution to all your tax planning and tax filing solution, with door step service at http://www.taxnirvana.com
Nagesh Kini FCA
1 decade ago
Raj & Jason,
Great job by some one who is not in tax practice! Keep doing good turns for the aam janata who'll bless you.
Last year Money Life published my note on how to make the return filing exercise more simpler.It was a prelude.
Easyitfilingcom
1 decade ago
One more thing from Easyitfiling, We offer income tax returns filing online free of charge. Users can file more than one income tax returns and track income tax returns online easily. Thanks & Regards Venkata
Pallavi Raj
1 decade ago
Dear Raj & Jason ,

Thanks for putting out this review. I am sure users will find it helpful.
I would like to point out a correction. TaxMunshi.com is a Paisaa Innovative Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (www.paisaa.in) company which is an authorized eReturn Intermediary. Thus users do not need to upload XML files for their Income Tax Returns but their data is transmitted to ITD by TaxMunshi.com through the backend integration. I will appreciate if you could please make that correction in your article. Pls. contact me for any additional questions. I will be happy to answer them.

Thanks,

Pallavi Raj
Chief Customer Officer, TaxMunshi.com
Mahesh A
1 decade ago
Dear Moneylife,

Apropos,

1."If you do not use DSC, you will have to mail the signed ITR-V to the Income-Tax Department CPC, Post Bag No-1, Electronic City Post Office, Bengaluru-560100, Karnataka, within 30 days after the date of transmitting the data electronically."

The time frame for mailing the ITR V is 120 days & not 30 days. It is to be sent by ordinary post & not by courier or registered / Speed Post. This is printed at the bottom of the ITR V.

2. "If you are entitled to a tax refund, you need to fill up the required details in the I-T returns (ITR) form. You would either have to provide your bank details or request payment by cheque. Once approved by the I-T Department, the refunded amount is directly credited to your bank account, if you have mentioned your bank details. Otherwise, you will receive a cheque in due course."

Presently the IT Dept is mailing the tax refund & the intimation u/s 143 (1) separately by post even if you have opted for ECS to your bank a/c. Both my wife & I received cheques.

Regards
Sundaram
Replied to Mahesh A comment 1 decade ago
Very true!
Nagesh KiniFCA
1 decade ago
he E-filing has made IT returns, assessments and returns far faster.
I filed my E-Return thru a CA after confirming the TDS on AS 26. First the assessment order comes thru Internet.
I found they adjusted ancient remands going back to 1994-1995 and 200
Only snafu was that the bank advice said they were adjusting the demand for 2094-2095! They had jumped the gun by a century from 1994 to 2094. who ever said we are not progressing?.
Suryadeep Agrawal
1 decade ago
Dear Raj & Jason

Thanks for reviewing various online tax filing options. It is quite comprehensive and very well done.

You are right in your observation that our online chat was not turned on. We usually turn it on during the tax filing month of June and July. This feature is used by a large no. people and customer service takes highest priority for us.

We are also in the process of getting the e-intermediary certification and it will be available soon :)

Regards,
Suryadeep Agrawal
VP, http://www.taxyogi.com
Raj Pradhan
Replied to Suryadeep Agrawal comment 1 decade ago
Thanks Suryadeep for your comments
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