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Confused about income tax returns? Here are 5 easy steps to file your ITR

It’s that time of the year when you have to think about filing your income-tax returns and clear all your annual tax liabilities. We are just two weeks away from the deadline of August 31. Start filing now to avoid last-minute rush! Remember, this deadline does not apply to those who have to get their accounts audited. The due date for those businesses that have to get their accounts audited is September 30. To make filing easier and for faster processing of returns for taxpayers, the income-tax (I-T) department has made e-filing mandatory.

If your total income for the financial year 2017-18 is more than Rs 250,000, you must file your I-T return by 31 August 2018. Those with an income of more than Rs 500,000 must compulsorily e-file.

Here are some steps you can follow to file your I-T return on time:

1. Keep all basic details for filing ready:

Before you start with the e-filing process, ensure you have certain basic details ready, such as your PAN, valid email account, valid mobile number, Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrolment ID, etc, without which return cannot be filed.

2. Form 16/16A:

Insist that your employer or deductor gives you your Form 16 or 16A, as the case may be, as proof of deduction of taxes at source on the payment made to you. These forms help you to understand the basis of your tax deduction on the income earned and makes it simpler for you to fill the details in the respective ITR.

3. Form 26 AS:

You should download Form 26AS from the income-tax e-filing portal before getting started with filing returns. This form is your consolidated tax statement summarising all taxes paid against your PAN. This form in fact helps you cross-check the details of income and tax deducted appearing in your Form 16 or Form 16A. Any discrepancies between Form 26AS and Form 16/16A need to be addressed before going ahead with the return filing process. However, you have to include the incomes received corresponding to TDS which is appearing on the Form 26AS, even though the deductor may not have provided Form 16A. The tax department only allows TDS credit if its related income has been included in your tax return.

4. Bank details:

Even if you know that you don’t have a refund this year, you should provide all your bank account details along with the IFSC code in your income-tax return. Therefore, keep details of your bank account ready, too. However, you need not mention details of the accounts that have become dormant – that is, those that have not been operational for more than three years.

5. Investment documents:

Proof of tax-saving investments made, medical cover taken, donations made, etc, are all required for helping you claim deductions under Section 80C, 80D and 80G respectively. Further, the need to keep these documents handy assumes more significance in a case where you have missed submitting tax proofs to your employer during the year on account of which there has been higher tax deduction at source. Law still gives you a chance to claim Section 80 deductions directly in your return. So, make the most of it by being adequately prepared.

To sum up, taking care of the above aspects is sure to help you in filing your return in time and sail through the return-filing process smoothly. Do note that filing return in time is crucial, as not doing so can result in a late filing fee under Section 234F – up to Rs 5,000 between August 1 and December 31, and up to Rs 10,000 after that. Further, it may also disentitle you from claiming a carry-forward of your losses, if any, during the year.

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