How to e-file your Income Tax Returns in India

Updated on: 6th Aug 2017

Come July and we all know that it is that time of the year to file your returns. I know a lot of people who avoid filing their returns online for fear of making mistakes and they pay money to accountants to do it for them. E-filing returns is extremely easy and also a great way to keep a tab on your money. If you have income from multiple sources (salary, land, rent, property, gold etc) - then it might be better to hire the services of a chartered accountant (clearly, you can afford to :p). An accountant is also a good bet if you are paying taxes as a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) vs. paying taxes as an individual. Also, I have no idea what filing as an HUF entails. If you do, feel free to explain it in the comments section :)

Now let us assume you are just another minion, slogging for an employer, with a few fixed deposits, paying your rent, feeling broke all the time, the usual shindig. WELCOME! You are one of us and e-filing is perfect for you! Read on to know exactly how you can go about it.


  • This document may not be suitable for absolute beginners who have never paid or filed taxes ever. I have safely assumed that one will understand some of the short forms used here. However, I am happy to elaborate further and will keep updating this doc as and when needed.
  • I am not an accountant, so what I write here is mostly from a layman's point of view. Please do not consider anything written here as final and binding in a court of law :P

Ok, so here we go


brains....need brains to file returns..
  1. If you are not sure whether you need to file your returns or not, refer to this link: Do bear in mind that the rules keep changing, so it is important to stay abreast with the latest financial news. Or you can just do a quick google every July to see if you are eligible for filing returns or not :P
  2. If you paid income tax in the year 2012-13, your assessment year would be 2013-14. It is confusing, but that’s just the way it is. Meh.
  3. Register on this website. It is a one time registration and the user id and password can be used for life Make sure you save the email that confirms your registration user id and password. Especially if you are the forgetful sort.
  4. And talking about being forgetful, it really helps to memorise your PAN no. You have no idea how many times you need to enter it. By-heart it off by all means!
  5. Ensure your Aadhar card is linked to your PAN number - Big Brother is watching you!
  6. Keep the following tax related documents ready before you begin the e-filing process. Go through them and understand them before starting. It may seem like Greek and Latin, but the more you acquaint yourself with stuffy financial docs, the better you get at understanding it. a.
    • Form 16 (given by your employer)
    • Form 16 or TDS from banks (for any fixed deposits or savings bank account whose interest exceeds 10k)
    • Investment proofs for 80C and 80G (Insurance, PPF, PF, Donations etc) – this is not required if it was submitted to your employer and has been processed in your Form 16. 
    • Form 26 AS – this tells you how much tax has already been deducted from you/ paid by you. Cross check with the data given on Form 16 from your employer/bank so you know how much tax you have paid over the year. 
    • Last year’s ITR 1 and ITR V. It makes it supremely easy to copy paste data from there to here. Or to just verify calculations and things. 
(Note: If there is a discrepancy between ‘Income charged under salaries’ in Form 16 and ‘Total amount paid/credited’ in Form 26 AS it is ok because TDS is calculated based on estimates (often based on 80c rebates you may plan for but not actually do). So always put the number given on Form 16 while filing returns.)

Use the IT department’s tax calculator to determine if you are eligible for a refund or if you need to pay extra taxes.


Puhleeze! Even I can e-file your returns!
  1. Visit the website You will need to enter your pan card no, login password, D.O.B and a captcha code. This website times out very quickly so make sure all documents mentioned in the section above are all with you.
  2. Ensure your computer meets the system and security requirements – these are usually explained on the e-filing website.
  3. If you are e-filing your returns for the first time, it can be a time consuming process that takes half a day. Detailed instructions given on the website on the top right corner under Help—How to e-file. Please save all documents, excel files, macros etc as these would be extremely useful when you e-file your returns the subsequent year.
  4. Salaried employees usually fill ITR1 or the Sahaj form. You file your returns using the following e-filing options:
    • By filing it directly online – via the ‘Prepare and submit online ITR’ option. This option is very quick and easy. See the steps below for filing your returns via this option.
    • By downloading forms to file your returns and then uploading it online – To do this, logout of your account, Visit the IT home page and you will see the option to download forms on the page. After filing those forms, use the ‘e-file - Upload Return


  1. Choose the option – ‘e-File – Prepare and submit online ITR’ from the menu on top of the page (after you have logged in, - because by now, the website would have auto-logged you out at least 6 times :P)
  2. Choose the assessment year and the ITR form name:
    • If you paid taxes in the year 2012-13, your assessment year would be 2013-14. I repeat - it is confusing, but that’s just the way it is.
    • Salaried employees usually fill the ITR1 form.
  3. Do you have an e-digital signature in a .pfx file or USB token? If you have no idea what on earth that is, choose ‘no’ to digitally sign the returns.
  4. Pre-filling data from previous IT returns or other docs makes it faster to process the returns. Also refer to last year’s returns to make it easy to fill specific boxes.
  5. Based on the tax calculator (tax that should be paid) and Form 26 AS (tax that has been paid) – do you need a refund? Pay extra? Or no action? Depending on the situation, choose the following options – tax refundable, tax payable, Nil Tax balance. (this gets auto populated 2017 onwards)
  6. Bank account details:
    • 2015-16 onwards asks for bank account details. Give details of all existing banks that are active. Note: only if savings bank interest exceeds Rs. 10k a year you will be taxed on it.
    • Post demonetization, you need to also declare if any cash deposits equal to or more than 2L were made between 9 Sep and 30 Dec 2016. 
  7. After filling the form, reviewing it and clicking on submit, it is time to verify the form.


Yay! I filed my returns and can
kick your ass!

  1. See this help guide:
  2. If your gross taxable salary is else than 5L then you can e-verify using one time password option. To generate this, go to the main page, top tabs - click on e-file – generate EVC. You can also verify it using your Aadhar card OTP via phone.
  3. If more than 5L verify by linking it to your bank account. Please disable your firewall while doing so else the process does not complete.
  4. In case you choose to post a physical copy of ITR V - make sure you read the rules regarding printouts and postage. Those chaps are rather anal about it.
  5. Very important: Take a copy of both ITR 1 and ITR V. For this, go to the Main page – Top tabs - Dashboard – View returns/forms – click on acknowledgement no – and  download both the ITR V and ITR 1 forms.


  1. To check for online refund status of previous years, save this link:
  2. If you need to pay extra tax and interest thereof, calculate it here:
  3. Use Challan ITNS 280 if you need to pay extra tax. No interest will be charged if the amount is less than 10k rupees.

(All images were googled under the 'labelled for reuse' category, which is probably why they suck)

Hope this helps!