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Last modified: 22 June 2016

Filing of Income Tax Return

Return of Income is a prescribed form through which the particulars of income earned by a person in a financial year and taxes paid on such income are communicated to the Income-tax Department. Different forms of returns of income are prescribed for filing of returns for different Status and Nature of income.

Who has to file Income Tax Return?

Every individual has to file the return of income if his total income (including income of any other person in respect of which he is assessable) without giving effect to the provisions of section 10A, 10B or 10BA or Chapter VIA (i.e., deduction under section 80C to 80U), exceeds the maximum amount which is not chargeable to tax i.e. exceeds the exemption limit.

Documents required to be attached with the return of income

ITR return forms are attachment less forms and, hence, the taxpayer is not required to attach any document (like proof of investment, TDS certificates, etc.) along with the return of income (whether filed manually or filed electronically). However, these documents should be retained by the taxpayer and should be produced before the tax authorities when demanded in situations like assessment, inquiry, etc.

However, in case of a taxpayer who is required to furnish a report of audit under section 10(23C)(v),10(23C)(vi), 10(23C)(via), 10A,10AA, 12A(1)(b), 44AB, 44DA, 50B, 80-IA,80-IB,80-IC,80-ID, 80JJAA, 80LA,92E,115JB or 115VW shall furnish it electronically on or before the date of filing the return of income.

Whether an assessee can file a revised return to correct a mistake in return filed earlier

Yes, provided the original return has been filed before the due date and the Department has not completed the assessment. It is expected that the mistake in the original return is of a genuine and bona fide nature and not rectification of any deliberate mistake. However, a belated return (being a return filed after the due date) cannot be revised.

Return can be revised within a period of one year from the end of the relevant assessment year or before completion of the assessment whichever is earlier.

Forms of return prescribed under the Income-tax Law

Under the Income-tax Law, different forms of returns are prescribed for different classes of taxpayers. The return forms are known as ITR forms (Income Tax Return Forms). The forms of return prescribed for filing of return of income for the assessment year 2015-16 (i.e., financial year 2014-15) are :

Return Form Description
ITR - 1 Also known as SAHAJ is applicable to an individual having salary or pension income or income from one house property (not a case of brought forward loss) or income from other sources (not being lottery winnings and income from race horses).
ITR 2A It is applicable to Individuals and Hindu Undivided Family not having income from business or profession and capital gains and resident who do not hold foreign assets do not have foreign income.
ITR - 2 It is applicable to an individual or a Hindu Undivided Family having income from any source other than "Profits and gains of business or profession".
ITR - 3 It is applicable to an individual or a Hindu Undivided Family who is a partner in a firm and where income chargeable to tax under the head "Profits or gains of business or profession" does not include any income except the income by way of any interest, salary, bonus, commission or remuneration, by whatever name called, due to, or received by him from such firm.
ITR - 4S Also known as SUGAM is applicable to individuals and Hindu Undivided Family who have opted for the presumptive taxation scheme of section 44AD/44AE.
ITR - 4 It is applicable to an individual or a Hindu Undivided Family who is carrying on a proprietary business or profession.
ITR - 5 This Form can be used by a person being a firm, LLP, AOP, BOI, artificial juridical person referred to in section 2(31)(vii), co-operative society and local authority. However, a person who is required to file the return of income under section 139(4A) or 139(4B) or 139(4C) or 139(4D) shall not use this form (i.e., trusts, political parties, institutions, colleges, etc.)
ITR - 6 It is applicable to a company, other than a company claiming exemption under section 11 (exemption under section 11 can be claimed by charitable/religious trust).
ITR - 7 It is applicable to a persons including companies who are required to furnish return under section 139(4A) or section 139(4B) or section 139(4C) or section 139(4D) (i.e., trusts, political parties, institutions, colleges, etc.).
ITR - V It is the acknowledgement of filing the return of income.

Modes of filing the return of income

This Return Form can be filed with the Income-tax Department in any of the following ways -

  1. by furnishing the return in a paper form;
  2. by furnishing the return electronically under digital signature;
  3. by transmitting the data in the return electronically under electronic verification code;
  4. by transmitting the data in the return electronically and thereafter submitting the verification of the return in Return Form ITR-V

Mandatory e-filing of return from the assessment year 2015-16 onwards

Due date of filing of return of income

Status of the taxpayer Due date
Any company other than a company who is required to furnish a report in Form No. 3CEB under section 92E (i.e. other than covered in 2 below) September 30 of the assessment year
Any person (may be corporate/non-corporate) who is required to furnish a report in Form No. 3CEB under section 92E November 30 of the assessment year
Any person (other than a company) whose accounts are to be audited under the Income-tax Law or under any other law September 30 of the assessment year
A working partner of a firm whose accounts are required to be audited under this Act or under any other law. September 30 of the assessment year
Any other assessee July 31 of the assessment year . The due date for the financial year 2014-15 extended to 31st August 2015.

Can a return be filed after the due date?

Yes, if one could not file the return of income on or before the prescribed due date, then he can file a belated return. A belated return can be filed within a period of one year from the end of the assessment year or before completion of the assessment, whichever is earlier. Return filed after the prescribed due date is called as a belated return. A belated return attracts interest and penalty.

Interest and Penalty for not filing return within the due date

If you have not furnished the return within the due date, you will have to pay interest on tax due. If the return is not filed up to the end of the assessment year, in addition to interest, a penalty of Rs. 5,000 shall be levied under section 271F.

For example in case of income earned during FY 2015-16, the belated return can be filed up to 31st March, 2018. However, if return is filed after 31st March, 2018, penalty under section 271F can be levied.

How long to keep copy of return?

Since legal proceedings under the Income-tax Act can be initiated up to four or six years (as the case may be) prior to the current financial year, you must maintain such documents at least for this period. However, in certain cases the proceedings can be initiated even after 6 years, hence, it is advised to preserve the copy of return as long as possible. Further, after introduction of the e-filing facility, it is very easy and simple to maintain the copy of return of income.

Important steps/points/precautions to be kept in mind while filing the return of income

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