The less taxing route to filing IT returns

Thanks to portals facilitating e-filing, the procedure has become relatively easy

The annual tax filing blues are here again to haunt us. But thanks to the numerous portals facilitating e-filing, it is not as rigorous as we may think. Here is a low down on the procedures and costs.



Portals to assist you



The first step towards filing your tax return is to sign up with any of the numerous tax filing portals such as Cleartax, Taxsmile, etc. Once the registration is complete, most portals require you to furnish personal information such as name, father's/spouse's name.



The next step is to provide information pertaining to your income source, deductions and tax paid as mentioned in the Form 16 given by your employer.



Intelligence is built into the platform so as to choose the right ITR (income tax return) form based on your income source; the data you provide to the platform automatically reflects in your ITR form.



The procedure is relatively easy, if you are a salaried employee with no other income source.



But if you have other income sources such as rent, interest income and investment income, you need to furnish all relevant information to the platform and this may take time.



Some portals such as Taxsmile enable filing by individuals and HUF (Hindu Undivided Family) only. But there are portals that offer service to businesses as well.



Portals have inbuilt tax calculator which not only tells you the total tax payable but also assists you in remitting the tax.



Besides, they also help you claim tax refunds. You can also track the status of your tax refund request. Some portals allow you to file multiple filings in a single account.



Most portals offer live chat facility to clarify your queries. Some portals offer filing facility through their mobile apps too.



You will however need an internet connection to submit the ITR form.



What if you make any mistake with the numbers? Well, these platforms allow you to edit the data you feed into the system.



You can revise the ITR filing even after submitting it to the tax authorities. Also, you can log into your account and access your previous filings.



Besides the online facility, most portals also offer assisted filing service — an offline personalised service, wherein the platform connects you to a chartered accountant who will assist you through the filing process.



For instance, individuals with multiple income sources such as interest, investment income, foreign currency income, may find assisted filing helpful.



Fee for filing



The fee structure varies across portals. Taxsmile, for instance, offers filing service for free to individuals with taxable income of up to ₹5 lakh. Cleartax too, for instance, offers the basic plan to individuals for free; and this supports multiple Form 16s.



However, if you have multiple income sources, property and investments, then the platform offers premium plans such as Cleartax Expert Plan for ₹1,299.



MyITreturn’s fee ranges from ₹125 (for indviduals) to ₹4,000 (professionals).



Confidentiality



These portals claim to have strong confidentiality and privacy policy. For instance, H&R Block claims that the customer data is hosted on a secure 128 bit encrypted server with CWASP certification.



Likewise, Cleartax also claims that the data on the server is encrypted and have a ISO 27001 certified data centre.



The company also conducts stringent security audit on an ongoing basis.



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