Income tax returns are something that you need to file every year if you are an earning individual and your taxable income is more than the threshold limit of INR 2.5 lakhs. Paying income tax on your aggregate income is your federal duty and the amount of tax that you are supposed to pay is calculated when you file your ITR. Moreover, when you file your ITR, you are also required to pay the outstanding tax liability so that you fulfil your federal duty and avoid the penalties of tax evasion.

Nowadays, the income tax filing process has gone online. Though there is an offline mode as well, it ultimately leads to online uploading of your ITR. So, let’s understand the complete process of how to file ITR.

How to file ITR? – The basics

Before you proceed to file your ITR, here are a few basic details that you need to know –

  • ITR filing can be done through the e-filing portal of the income tax department. To do so, you would have to create a registered account on the income tax website. Once your account is created, you can proceed to file your ITR
  • There are different types of ITR forms. Depending on the type of taxpayer that you are and your income, you would have to choose the right ITR
  • PAN Card is a must for filing your returns
  • You can either file your taxes yourself if you are conversant with the income tax rules and regulations or you can take the help of tax professionals
  • Here’s a quick look at the income tax slabs that you have to use when calculating your tax liability –

If you are an individual or HUF taxpayer aged below 60 years

Level of income

Tax payable

Up to INR 250,000

Nil

INR 250,001 to INR 500,000

5% of income exceeding INR 250,000

(However, if your taxable income is limited to INR 5 lakhs, you can claim a rebate on your tax liability under Section 87A. This rebate makes your tax liability nil)

INR 500,001 to INR 10,00,000

INR 12,500 + 20% of income exceeding INR 500,000

INR 10,00,001 and above

INR 112,500 + 30% of income exceeding INR 10,00,000

If you are a senior citizen

Level of income

Tax payable

Up to INR 300,000

Nil

INR 300,001 to INR 500,000

5% of income exceeding INR 300,000

(However, if your taxable income is limited to INR 5 lakhs, you can claim a rebate on your tax liability under Section 87A. This rebate makes your tax liability nil)

INR 500,001 to INR 10,00,000

INR 10,000 + 20% of income exceeding INR 500,000

INR 10,00,001 and above

INR 110,000 + 30% of income exceeding INR 10,00,000

If you are a super senior citizen aged 80 years and above

Level of income

Tax payable

Up to INR 500,000

Nil

INR 500,001 to INR 10,00,000

20% of income exceeding INR 500,000

INR 10,00,001 and above

INR 100,000 + 30% of income exceeding INR 10,00,000

How to register or log in on the e-filing portal of the income tax department?

As mentioned earlier, it is important to register online with the income tax department and then log in to the website to file your income tax return. So, let’s understand the process of registering and logging in on the income tax portal –

  • Registering on the e-filing portal
    • To register, visit the website of the income tax department at https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in
    • Click on ‘Register’ 
    • For ‘User Type’ select ‘Individual’, ‘HUF’ or the type of taxpayer that you are
    • You would have to provide your personal details like your PAN card number, your full name, date of birth and your residential status and click on ‘Continue’
    • In the next page, provide the password that you want to use, your contact and address details and then ‘Submit’
    • Once the details are submitted, you would get two OTPs sent to your email ID and your registered mobile number. If, however, you are a non-resident, the OTP would be shared on your email ID
    • Provide the OTP and your registration process would be completed
  • Logging in on the e-filing portal

    Once you are registered, you can log into your online account and then file your taxes. The process to log in is as follows –

How to file ITR?

The income tax department offers you two modes of filing your ITR. These modes and their process are as follows –

  • How to file ITR offline?

    In the offline mode, you would have to download the ITR form in which you have to file your return. Once you download, you have to fill the form offline, create an XML file and then upload it on the income tax portal. To e-file using the XML file, you would need either the Excel Utility or Java Utility. To download either of these utilities, the process is as follows –

    • Visit www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in and under ‘Downloads’ click on ‘IT Return Preparation Software’
    • Then you would have to extract the utility from the ZIP folder downloaded from the portal
    • The ITR form would be shown. Fill up the details required in the form
    • There would be different tabs in the ITR form. Validate all of them to calculate your tax liability 
    • Generate and save the XML document created after you have calculated the tax
    • Log in to your online account on the e-filing portal
    • Click the ‘e-file’ tab and click on ‘Income Tax Return’
    • Your PAN card number would be automatically filled in. You would have to choose the assessment year, ITR form number and the filing type – original or return.
    • On the ‘Submission mode’ option, choose ‘Upload XML’
    • The next step would involve verification of the uploaded ITR. To do so, you can choose from any of the following options –
      • Aadhaar based OTP
      • DSC or Digital Signature Certificate
      • EVC using the pre-validated bank account details
      • EVC using the pre-validated Demat account details
      • Already generated EVC through ‘My Account’
      • ‘I would like to e-verify later. Please remind me’
      • ‘I don’t want to e-verify this Income Tax Return and would like to send signed ITR-V through normal or speed post to “Centralized Processing Centre, Income Tax Department, Bengaluru – 560500″’
    • Click on ‘Continue’ and attach the XML file in which you have filed your ITR
    • Submit the ITR and the process would be completed
  • How to file ITR online?

    The online mode is easier and you can file your ITR by logging into your online account. The process is as follows –

    • Visit www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in and log into your online account
    • Click the ‘e-file’ tab and click on ‘Income Tax Return’
    • Your PAN card number would be automatically filled in. You would have to choose the assessment year, ITR form number and the filing type – original or return.
    • In the ‘Submission Mode’ option you would have to choose ‘Prepare and Submit Online’ and hit ‘Continue’
    • Read the instructions for filing the income tax returns and then fill the mandatory fields in the suitable ITR
    • The next step is verification of your ITR. To do this, go to the ‘Taxes paid and verification’ tab and choose from any of the following options –
      • I would like to e-verify
      • I would like to e-verify later within 120 days from the filing date
      • I don’t want to e-Verify and would like to send signed ITR-V through normal or speed post to “Centralized Processing Centre, Income Tax Department, Bengaluru – 560 500” within 120 days from the date of filing
    • Then click on ‘Preview and Submit’ and check all the details entered in the ITR and the tax calculated
    • Rectify any errors and then click on ‘Submit’ to submit your income tax return
    • If you are e-verifying the ITR immediately, you can do so through any of the following options –
      • EVC generated through your bank’s ATM
      • EVC generated through the ‘My Account’ section
      • Pre-validated bank or Demat account
      • Aadhaar based OTP

    Online e-filing checklist

    To ensure a smooth filing of your income tax returns, here is a basic checklist for you to remember –

    • Registering on the e-filing portal is a must as you can file your ITR only as a registered user
    • Find out which ITR form is suitable depending on your income. The forms and their applicability are as follows –
    • ITR form

      When is it used?

      ITR 1

      If you are a resident individual with income less than INR 50 lakhs arising out of salary or pension, other sources, and/or one house property

      ITR 2

      If you have income from salary or pension, other sources, and/or one house property, capital gains, foreign income or foreign asset and the income exceeds INR 50 lakhs. Moreover, if you are holding a directorship in a company or unlisted shares, this ITR would be needed for tax filing

      ITR 3

      If you have income from any income specified eligible under ITR 2, or income from business or profession, from being a partner in a firm, or a presumptive income less than INR 50 lakhs

      ITR 4

      If you have any income-eligible under ITR 1 or presumptive income from salary or pension, other sources, or one house property and the total income is less than INR 50 lakhs

      ITR 5

      This form is applicable to file taxes for firms, Limited Liability Partnerships, Body of Individuals, and Association of Persons

      ITR 6

      This form is applicable for companies that do not claim any exemption under Section 11

      ITR 7

      This form is applicable for persons or companies that are eligible under Section 139 (4A), Section 139 (4B), Section 139 (4C), and Section 139 (4D)

    • Keep all the required documents handy
    • Know which deductions and exemptions you can claim on your taxable income
    • Calculate your tax liability and check if any TDS has been deposited on your behalf
    • File the taxes correctly and within the due date to avoid late payment penalties

    Documents needed to file ITR

    When filing your ITR, though the process is online, the following documents would be needed –

    • The right ITR form is determined depending on your income and your taxpaying status
    • Aadhaar card and PAN interlinking
    • If you are a salaried employee, you would have to submit the following documents –
      • Your PAN Card
      • Form 16 issued by your employer
      • Salary slip of each month
      • Proofs of all allowances received from the employer 
    • If you have received interest income from your bank account or fixed deposits, the following proofs of such interest income would be needed –
      • Extract of the passbook or bank statement for saving account interest
      • Interest certificate for fixed deposit interest
      • TDS certificate issued by the bank or any other financial institution offering an interest income
    • Form 26AS that records the TDS deducted and deposited on your behalf in a financial year
    • Proof of deductions available under Section 80 under Chapter VI A of the Income Tax Act, 1961
    • For claiming eligible expenses as a deduction, the following documentary evidence would be needed –
      • PF contribution
      • Tuition fee paid for your children
      • Premium paid for life or health insurance
      • Stamp duty and registration charges paid for a house property
      • The principal amount repaid on a home loan
      • Investment into the ELSS scheme
      • Interest paid on home loan
      • Interest paid on education loan
      • Statement of stock trades made in a financial year

    Things to remember when e-filing your taxes

    Here are a few points to remember when you are filing your income tax returns –

    • The tax filing due date is 31st July. However, the income tax department might extend the tax filing deadline due to specified instances
    • If you do not use the correct ITR, wrong taxes would be filed. This would require you to file a rectification tax return and if you file after the due date, you might incur penalties
    • Use the available deductions and exemptions to their maximum limit to reduce your tax liability 
    • Ensure your Aadhaar and PAN card is linked. Moreover, furnishing your PAN number is compulsory. If you don’t have a PAN card, apply and avail of it immediately before you file your returns
    • Check the ITR twice for any possible errors or typos

    How to file ITR online for super senior citizens?

    Super senior citizens are those who are aged 80 years and above. For such individuals, the threshold limit is INR 5 lakhs. So, if their income is within this threshold limit, they don’t have to file returns. However, if their income exceeds this threshold limit, return filing is mandatory.

    Section 194P of the Income Tax Act, 1961 gives tax filing relief to senior citizens aged 75 years and above. This section is applicable from 1st April 2021 and eliminates the need of filing tax returns if the individual fulfils the following conditions –

    • He/she is aged 75 years and above
    • The income consists only of pension and interest income
    • He/she is a ‘resident’ in the previous year

    If these conditions are fulfilled, super senior citizens and senior citizens aged 75 years and above would not be required to file their taxes.

    Those who do not meet these conditions would have to file their taxes online on the portal of the income tax department.

    Ways to save taxes

    There are various ways that allow you to reduce your taxable income. Some of these ways are as follows –

    • Life insurance premiums allow you to claim deduction on your taxable income up to INR 1.5 lakhs under Section 80C. 
    • Life insurance maturity benefits are also tax-free under Section 10 (10D) subject to specific terms and conditions
    • Health insurance premiums also allow you to save taxes up to INR 1 lakh under Section 80D
    • Investments in the following schemes help in saving taxes by claiming deduction under Section 80C –
      • ELSS schemes
      • 5-year fixed deposits in banks or post offices
      • Sukanya Samridhi Yojana
      • NPS
      • Senior Citizen Saving Scheme
      • Public Provident Fund, etc.
    • NPS investment can be claimed as an additional deduction, up to INR 50,000, under Section 80CCD (1B)
    • Home loan interest payments allow tax benefits under Section 24(b) up to INR 2 lakhs. You can also claim an additional tax deduction under Section 80EEA, up to INR 1.5 lakhs, subject to specific conditions.

    So, save your taxes and calculate the correct tax liability. Then file your income tax return online and fulfil your federal duty.


FAQ’s

No, tax filing done through the online portal of the income tax department is completely free of cost.


The last date for filing your ITR for the financial year 2020-21 is 30th September 2021.


If you are eligible to file an income tax return and you do not do so, you would face monetary penalties. Moreover, depending on the severity of tax evasion, you can also be imprisoned.


The ITR is filled online only whether you file your taxes online or offline. Manual filling of the ITR is not allowed.


Yes, the income tax department allows the e-payment facility to pay your taxes online through digital payment modes.