FAQs: 10 key things you must know about income-tax return (ITR) filing

Income Tax Returns
The July 31 deadline to file income-tax returns (ITR) for the 2018-19 financial year is nearing, so taxpayers are advised to file their ITR within or ahead of time to avoid any late penalties.

The ITR filing procedure can be extremely tedious and time-taking, especially for first-time filers or those earning from more than one source. There often are several questions regarding the process to file ITR. To make your job easier, we have answered a few of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) on ITR filing.

FAQs on ITR filing

1. What is Income Tax Return (ITR)?

Income tax returns or ITR are the tax forms used to declare the details of your income to the Income Tax Department for assess the amount you need to pay as income tax in a financial year. The tax return, usually in a predefined worksheet format, is also necessary to claim a refund of any additional amount that might have been deducted at source (TDS) and deposited with the income-tax department.

2. Who is required to file an ITR?

Every Indian citizen whose gross total income exceeds the taxable limit must file an ITR. This implies, individuals and Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs) with total annual income exceeding Rs 250,000 lakh are required to file income tax returns. For senior citizens (individuals between 60 years and 80 years of age) the threshold is Rs 300,000, and that for very senior citizens (aged above 80 years) it is Rs 500,000.

3. What are income-tax slabs for 2018-19 financial year?

India follows a progressive tax regime, which means that high-income earners are taxed more than low-income ones. The government has categorised taxpayers into different groups based on their annual income. These groups are referred to as tax slabs. This year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in her Union Budget 2019-20 speech that there would be no change in the tax slabs for individuals.

Income tax slab for FY 2018-19:

Income Tax Slab Income Tax Rate
Income up to Rs 250,000 Nil
Income between Rs 250,001 - Rs 500,000 5% of Income exceeding Rs 250,000
Income between Rs 500,001 - Rs 1,000,000 20% of Income exceeding Rs 500,000
Income above Rs 1,000,000 30% of Income exceeding Rs 1,000,000

Income Tax Slab Rate for men and women below 60 Years of Age


Income Tax Slab Income Tax Rate
Income up to Rs 300,000 Nil
Income between Rs 300,001 - Rs 500,000 5% of Income exceeding Rs 300,000
Income between Rs 500,001 - Rs 1,000,000 20% of Income exceeding Rs 500,000
Income above Rs 1,000,000 30% of Income exceeding Rs 1,000,000

Income Tax Slab Rate for Senior Citizens (Age 60 years or more but less than 80 years)


Income Tax Slab Income Tax Rate
Income up to Rs 500,000 Nil
Income between Rs 500,001 - Rs 1,000,000 20% of Income exceeding Rs 500,000
Income above Rs 1,000,000 30% of Income exceeding Rs 1,000,000

Income Tax Slab Rate for Senior Citizens (Age 80 years or more)


5. Advantages of filing income tax return online

There are many advantages of filing ITR online. Some of the benefits are as follows:

* Quick processing: You will get the acknowledgement of ITR promptly. Refunds, if any, are processed faster online than paper-filed returns.  

* Accuracy: E-filing software minimises errors

* Convenience: E-filing facility is available 24x7 and can be done at your convenience

* Privacy: The data entered by you are safe as they cannot be accessed by anyone

* Record of past ITRs: It is easier to access previous data, should you need them at any time in future.

6. How do I file an ITR?

Filing ITR can be a tedious task for some. Before filing ITR, you will need to create your e-filing account on the Income Tax website, incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in and register yourself. Registration is completed after you click the activation link sent via e-mail and provide the one-time password (OTP) received on your mobile. Click on 'Registered User' if you have already registered yourself on the website. Here's a complete step-by-step guide on filing Income Tax Returns (ITR) electronically.

7. How can I get a copy of ITR?

You can download a copy of your Income Tax Return acknowledgement after filing it online. The I-T department sends your ITR-V acknowledgement to your registered e-mail id.

If you are unable to access it, log into your incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in account and follow these steps:

Step 1: Click on 'My Account' and go to 'e-Filed Returns/Forms' on the official Income Tax department e-filing website.

Step2: You will see a list of e-Filed returns. Click on the Acknowledgement Number of the Assessment Year for which you want to download ITR-V.

Step 3: Under the Download/Status Description, you will find ITR-V/Acknowledgement. Click on the same and the acknowledgment will be downloaded.

Step 4: The downloaded PDF will be password protected. Unlock it by using your PAN in lower case and date of birth (DoB) in the DD/MM/YYYY format.

If you have filed ITR physically, you will need to approach Jurisdictional Income Tax Officer and request for a duplicate copy of your acknowledgement.

8. Is it mandatory to file income tax return if my earning is below Rs 250,000?

No, it is not mandatory to file an income tax return if your annual income is below Rs 250,000. However, even those who are out of the tax net should consider filing a 'Nil Return' to maintain a record. There are several instances where income tax returns are considered a proof of employment — for instance, when you are applying for a passport or taking a loan.

9. If I have paid excess tax, how will it be refunded to me?

You are eligible to receive an income tax refund if you have paid more tax to the government than your actual tax liability.

Process to claim a tax refund: In order to claim an income tax refund, it is mandatory to file an ITR.

Once you have filled up the ITR form, click on the validate button on the 'Taxes paid and Verification' sheet. The system will auto calculate the refund due to you and the refund amount will appear in the 'Refund' row.

Remember that this is the refund amount that you have claimed, not necessarily the amount that will be accepted and paid by the I-T department. Once the income-tax department has verified your ITR and the refund claim made by you, it will communicate the outcome to you. If you have filed ITR electronically, the I-T department will send you an e-mail or an SMS.

Alternatively, one can track the refund status by visiting tin.tin.nsdl.com/oltas/refundstatuslogin.html.

Refund, if accepted as due, will normally be directly credited to the bank account you had given for this purpose in your tax return.

10. What should one do in case of discrepancies in actual TDS and TDS credit under Form 26AS?

Often, mismatches and discrepancies in actual TDS and TDS credit under Form 26AS are attributed to wrong information provided in the TDS return. Approach your employer/deductor to file a revised TDS return after making the necessary corrections.

The income-tax department allows an assessee to mention the reason for mismatch in the online portal in answer to a notice sent by it.

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