(Photo: iStock)
(Photo: iStock)

Verify pre-filled data carefully before filing tax

  • Pre-filled information is only available for those filing their tax on ITR-1 or ITR-4 completely online using the income tax department’s e-filing website
  • The form will not have pre-filled information if you are downloading it in Excel or Java format, filling and uploading it

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her budget speech, mentioned that soon we will have pre-filled data in income-tax return (ITR) forms. It may be noted that for assessment year 2019-20, ITR-1 and ITR-4 forms already have pre-filled information about the assessee.

With all the forms available on the income-tax website and the deadline for filing ITR less than a month away, you may be in a hurry to get cracking. But if you are yet to receive Form 16 from your employer, don’t base your filing just on pre-filled information.

Recently, the tax department issued a cautionary note for taxpayers using pre-filled ITR forms, saying they should verify all information in the forms before submitting it for assessment. Some employers are yet to issue Form 16 because the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has extended the last date for employers to issue the form to 10 July.

You must wait for your employer to issue Form 16 before filing returns and verify all the pre-filled information.

Remember that pre-filled information will only be available on ITR 1 and ITR 4 if you file the return completely online on the department’s e-filing website. The form will not have pre-filled information if it is downloaded in Excel or Java format.

We tell you who can use forms ITR-1 and ITR-4 and what pre-filled information is all about.

Forms ITR-1 and ITR-4

ITR-1 should be used by resident individuals having total income of not more than 50 lakh. Also, the source of income should only include income from salaries, one house property, other sources (like interest from bank deposit) and agricultural income of up to 5,000.

ITR-4 is for resident individuals, Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs) and firms having total income up to 50 lakh and for those who choose to file their income under presumptive taxation scheme (PTS). PTS allows you to calculate your tax on an estimated income or profit. The scheme can be used by businesses having a total turnover of less than 2 crore and eligible professionals with gross receipts of less than 50 lakh in a financial year. Those who opt PTS are not required to maintain books of accounts.

However, remember that neither ITR-1 and ITR-4 forms can’t be used to file returns by an individual who is either a director in a company or has invested in unlisted equity shares. Those having income from capital gains can file their return in ITR-2 form, while those having income from business and profession can file their return in ITR-3 form.

Pre-filled details

In its endeavour to make the process of tax filing easier, the income tax department last year decided to introduce pre-filled ITR forms with details of income and taxes paid by the assesses during the year. The aim was to use the information already available with the department and make the tax filing procedure simple and fast for taxpayers.

Earlier, ITR form had “information like name, father’s name, Aadhaar number, bank account number and so on. This year, salary information with break-up and exemption claimed, interest on income tax refund are pre-filled in ITR-1 and ITR-4 forms. House property income is now pre-filled where TDS (tax deducted at source) is deducted on house property income," said Archit Gupta, founder and chief executive officer, Cleartax.com, a tax filing portal.

The information available in pre-filled ITR forms is sourced from different places. “The income tax department sources such information from Form 26AS, TDS returns filled by the employer and also last year’s ITR," said Amit Maheshwari, partner, Ashok Maheshwary & Associates LLP, a chartered accountancy firm. Besides, “remember that this pre-filled facility is available only to those who file the return online on the portal. If the taxpayer uses excel or Java utilities, then they need to fill in all the details," said Maheshwari.

However, if you are using a pre-filled ITR form, make sure you cross check all the information mentioned in it. “Taxpayers need to exercise extra caution while filing their tax return, they must cross-verify each amount and validate final results of tax payable or refund due," said Gupta.

This is especially important for those who may not have submitted all the proofs of their deduction and investment to their employer and want to claim them at the time of filing their return. Errors could also impact an assessee’s dues or refunds.