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Questions On Filing IT Return Bothering Many Taxpayers

The (dreaded) time of the year, when we have to file our income tax returns, is upon us. Barely three weeks remain to catch the deadline of July 31st. 

Given the normal tendency to delay (unpleasant) tasks till the last minute, I am sure that numerous taxpayers are yet to file their tax returns.

Besides, they are plagued by many doubts and queries.

Discussed below are some of the Key Frequently Asked Questions on Filing of Income Tax Returns.

Why is filing of IT Return compulsory, even when all the taxes due have been paid?
As per law, the Government gets the rights over the taxes paid by you (by way of TDS, TCS or Advance Tax), only after you confirm the same through the process of self-assessment. Filing of IT Return serves this purpose of self-assessment and hence is mandatory.

Besides, your IT Return may be required for availing a home loan, sending your child abroad for education, etc. If you don't have one, you could jeopardize such important aspects.

In fact, if you have made a loss in one Financial Year, you can (subject to the rules) claim a set-off in the next Financial Year, ONLY IF you have filed your returns before the due date and showing carry-forward of the losses.

What if you miss the deadline of July 31, 2016?
If you fail to furnish your returns by the due date, you can still file the same (a) within a period of one year from the end of the relevant assessment year or (b) before the assessment is completed, whichever is earlier.

Hence, Mar 31, 2018 is (technically) the last date for filing returns for the FY 2015-16.

However, it is important to note that
a) you will have to pay penal interest on taxes due, if the return is filed after the due date,
b) if the return is not filed within the assessment year (i.e. filed after Mar 31, 2017), an additional penalty of Rs.5000 is applicable,
c) non-payment of taxes also attracts rigorous imprisonment from 3 months to 7 years.

Within what period can the revised returns be filed, if there is mistake in the original return?
You are allowed to file the revised returns (a) within a period of one year from the end of the relevant assessment year or (b) before the assessment is completed, whichever is earlier.

For example, for 2015-16 the due date of filing the return of income is July 31, 2016. If you file the returns on or before July 31, 2016, you can revise the same before March 31, 2018 (provided the assessment is not completed by that date).​

By the way, within this specified time frame, you are allowed to revise your returns as many times as you want.

Are you traumatized by the very idea of filing your Income Tax Returns?

Where does Form 26AS come into the picture?
As you are aware, you cannot wait till the year end to pay your income tax. During the course of any Financial Year, you would have already paid a large portion of your taxes. This happens through
a) Tax Deduction at Source (e.g. by your employer on your salary income or by your bank on your interest income)
b) Tax Collection at Source (e.g. when you make certain specified transactions in cash)
c) Advance Tax or Self Assessment Tax paid during the year.

Form 26AS is the statement maintained by the Income Tax Department, that reflects your various above mentioned tax payments during the year (pertaining to your Permanent Account Number).

In your Income Tax Returns, you are normally allowed to claim the credit for only the taxes reflecting in your Form 26AS. If any tax deduction or tax payment is not appearing in your Form 26AS, the IT Department can disallow the same.

This can happen due to various reasons. It is possible that the person deducting your tax has not filed the TDS returns with the IT Department; which specifies the details such as the amount of tax deducted, your PAN, etc. As a result, IT Deptt. is not in a position to update its database and hence your Form 26AS. Or, the details furnished e.g. your PAN are incorrect. So, this tax will get reflected in someone else's Form 26AS.

These can lead to discrepancies between the actual taxes paid by you and what is shown in Form 26AS. It is vitally important for you to approach the tax deductor(s) and get the mistakes, if any, rectified.

In short, don't take this important matter of filing your income tax returns lightly. You never know when it could prove to be a seriously damaging lapse.

Given the simplified ITR form and process, this year too you should be able to file your income tax returns with smile and serenity.

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