March is here. Mention the word income tax, and most people shudder when they think of all the paperwork. Calculating taxable income and making last minute investment decisions can be a messy affair. No wonder most taxpayers leave the arduous tax tasks to their financial planners.
For those who cannot tell a deduction from a rebate and are clueless about their permanent account number (PAN), help is now at hand on the Internet. A host of sites can help you understand the tax laws and their nuances, compute your taxes online, download return forms and even file your returns. Rediff Guide to the Net has compiled a list to simplify your dealings with the taxman.
Basics of income-tax:
Given that even Saral (the Income Tax Department's simplified return form) requires you to classify your income into salary, house property and so on, you need to have a basic idea of the laws before you fill your return form. There are scores of legal sites that deal with such laws.
Lexsite.com and Laws4india.com provide a comprehensive overview of laws on taxation and other financial matters. But these are essentially for those who have a degree of familiarity with the laws, and know what they're looking for.
Taxationindia.com a site dedicated to consultations on tax offers several useful tips, available to registered users of the site. Says CEO Paresh Rajde, "The site calculates taxes, simplifies tax laws and reduces the drudgery of filing returns for its users." Jayshree Wadia, a marketing executive of a leading automobile magazine, and registered user, says: "The site has taught me a lot about taxes and investments. With their advice, I take all the investment decisions of the family now."
The Income Tax Department, Delhi has its own site featuring several sections explaining jargon, the various heads of income, procedure for filing returns, obtaining a PAN and so on. If you are unsure of whether you have to file returns and what forms to fill, this is the place to head.
ItaxIndia.com is useful if you want to learn about individual heads of income; from house property or from capital gains.
An assortment of calculators are available online. They not only allow you to compute your tax accountability, but also to plan your investments and minimise tax. There are calculators that allow you to decide between a tax-free and a taxable investment offering different returns. Others help you compute the rate of capital gains tax on your investment.
The official Income Tax, India site offers the income tax reckoner to compute your taxable income and the surcharge on it. Filemyreturns.com dedicated to filing returns, has a tax simulator module that allows you to decide on the extent of your tax saving investments to be made based on your tax liability.
Several sites allow you to compute your tax liability for the year. Typically, these offer work sheets that require you to input important items falling under each head of income. Filemyreturns.com seems to be the most useful in this category.
Tax return forms:
You don't have to run to the income tax office to get hold of the forms now, there are sites offering downloadable forms for both corporate and individual taxpayers. Formsindia.com is a good location for printing return forms. Most IT department sites also offer this service.
The taxpayer's corner on this site offers tips and a step-by-step account of how to fill your return form.
Several sites offer detailed FAQ sections that allow you to clear your queries. If you have any doubts on the tax treatment of a particular item, you can refer to a series of readymade FAQs or consult with experts through email. Taxationindia.com, itaxindia.com, filemyreturns.com offer these services and most of them require registration.
Oscar D'Silva, a software engineer from Bangalore, recommends filemyreturns.com. The site offers two options. One allows you to dispatch the return form online, with the site promising to get back to you to verify key details. Oscar opted for this one and is happy with their service. The other offline' option is where a user can request a site representative to collect it personally and deposit it at the income tax office.
Other tax sites: