As the July 31 deadline for submitting income tax returns gets closer, IANS analyses the key changes and provides a detailed guide to make your filing easier.
Although the tax rates and slabs for the assessment year 2014-15 or financial year 2013-14 remain the same as they were in the previous year, a rebate of Rs. 2,000 is offered to resident individual if his/her total income is upto Rs.500,000 after the standard deductions.
The rebate is provided under Section 87A. The assessment year is always one year ahead of the financial year.
A surcharge of 10 percent on the income above Rs.1 crore is levied for the assessment year 2014-15. The income tax department has added a new column for this surcharge.
Another major change is related to discontinuation of refunds through cheques. You must provide details of bank account to get refunds, if any. The IT department has decided to discontinue payment of refunds through cheques and it will be done only through electronic clearance service (ECS).
"You must carefully mention your bank account details. Blanks, all zeros, special characters, etc. are not allowed," said Surendra Pareek, partner, tax, KPMG in India.
Pareek said prior to logging in to the e-filing website, contact details like mobile number and e-mail address need to be updated for all taxpayers filing returns electronically.
However, non-residents and foreign taxpayers need to update only their e-mail addresses.
It has become mandatory for all those people whose taxable income exceed Rs.5 lakh to file the returns electronically. This was made mandatory from the assessment year 2013-14.
There are two ways of filing the return online. You can either file your return online by going to the income tax department website incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in or through the government authorised e-return intermediary.
Filing of return through the department's website is free of cost, while e-return intermediaries charge a fee of around Rs.250 to Rs.1,500, depending on the kind of services.
Ankur Sharma, co-founder and chief executive officer of TaxSpanner.com, a leading e-return intermediary, said that with a view to providing more transparent services, the IT department has decided to limit the number of returns which can be e-filed using a single email id at four.
"The income tax department may increase this number a bit, but the idea of connecting directly with the taxpayer is very welcome," said Sharma, adding that the use of only taxpayer's email ID in electronic filing of returns would ensure that he/she remain in control of data.
The process has become easier for Non-Resident Indian (NRI) assessees. Now, the Central Processing Centre (CPC), Bangalore, will auto process income tax returns of NRIs. Earlier there used to be manual verification.
In addition to the Excel software, the income tax return can also be filed using Java from this year. Java software allows pre-filling of data into the ITR forms based on information available in the Permanent Account Number (PAN) database and Form 26AS. The new utility also supports direct uploading of the Income Tax Return (ITR) form to the Income Tax department. Direct upload facility is not available in the Excel utility.
The e-filing website allows free download of Java and Excel utilities to fill in the ITR forms. The utilities are available at the income tax department website: incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in. Some private players also offer this software.
Referring to an income tax department guideline, Pareek said taxpayers should be careful in selecting the software and should avoid unauthorised Mobile Apps which are available for preparation and filing of the ITRs.
Most of the stakeholders and analysts IANS spoke to expressed hope that the number of electronic filing of returns is estimated to jump by almost 40 percent this year.
According to data available with the income tax department, 2,799,055 income tax returns were filed electronically in the first three months of the current fiscal. In the financial year 2013-14, a total 29,681,794 returns were filed online.
Easier processes and mandatory limit of online filing to income above Rs.5 lakh is likely to boost e-filing.