Mind the changes when filing I-T returns; here is how it may impact you

Taxpayers can start filing returns on the income-tax department’s e-filing website. Last week, the department made all the seven income-tax return (ITR) forms available on its portal. To discourage late filing, the I-T department has introduced late filing fee this year onwards.

The last date for filing tax returns for 2017-18 is July 31. The deadline applies to individuals who don’t need to get their accounts audited. For others, the due date is September 30. The Income Tax (I-T) Act has added a new section — 234F — that covers late filing fee. 

If a salaried individual files returns after July 31 but before December 31, he or she has to pay a fee of Rs 5,000. For returns filed between January 1 and March 31, the fee doubles. There’s, however, a small relief if the taxpayer’s income is below Rs 500,000. The fee in such cases is Rs 1,000.

Beyond March 31, 2019, no filing is allowed. “With the entire assessment process now computerised, the income-tax (I-T) department wants to finish the whole process within one financial year. It benefits the department as well as the taxpayers. Faster processing means faster assessment and quicker refunds,” says Chetan Chandak, head – tax research, H&R Block India.

Filing returns on time has other benefits. “If you don’t file returns on time, any losses you have during the current year will not be allowed to be carried forward and set off against the income of future years,” said Archit Gupta, founder and chief executive officer, ClearTax. Gupta also said taxpayers should ensure they file returns even if there’s a delay. “It helps taxpayers claim any excess tax they might have paid. But most importantly, it is of great help when one is applying for a loan, a visa or any other legal or bank processes,” he says.

Do note that the ITR form this year asks for information in detail. Salaried individuals, for example, have to provide a break-up of their salary and if there’s income from house property, the taxpayer has to give a break-up of the gross rent received, taxes paid to the local authorities, etc.

For verifying returns, taxpayers have more options now. Other than using Aadhaar, they can verify returns using net banking, pre-validated bank accounts, demat accounts and even through a bank ATM. For verifying returns through bank accounts and demat, the individual needs to pre-validate them on the e-filing portal.

Last month, the income-tax department also warned salaried taxpayers against using illegal means while filing returns, stating that violators would be prosecuted. Tax experts say that individuals should avoid chartered accountants (CAs) who promise to get a higher refund for a 10 per cent commission. “When filing returns on behalf of clients, such CAs claim deductions that an individual is not eligible for. They take a declaration from the client to secure themselves. Ultimately, it’s the individual who will land in trouble if caught,” said a CA, adding the I-T department was monitoring such fraudulent returns.

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