Do I need to file my Income Tax Return?

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin. This phrase highlights the inevitability of death and burden of taxes.

Income Tax is one of the taxes that is levied directly on your Personal Earnings or Income. Income Tax is a tax you pay on your earnings. We can consider Income Tax as one of the most well-known and least understood aspects of Personal Finance.

Why an Individual has to pay Income Tax? – Income tax is one of the key sources of funds that the government uses to fund its activities and serve the public.

So, is it mandatory for everyone who earns to file income tax returns? What are the guidelines?

What is Income Tax Return?

Every tax payer has to declare his/her income to the Income Tax Department at the end of a Financial Year in a prescribed form by the Govt. This prescribed form is known as ITR. It is a summary of incomes earned during a particular Financial Year (April to March).

These incomes can be ;

  • Income from Salary or Pension
  • Income from Business or Profession
  • Income from other sources like interest income etc.,
  • Income from Capital Gains
  • Income from House property etc.,

You can submit your Tax Return in one of the seven forms prescribed by the CBDT. These forms are referred to as ITR -1 , ITR2A, ITR 2, ITR 3, ITR 4S, ITR 4, ITR 5, ITR 6 and ITR 7.

The ITR gives a standard proof of income to a person and helps to establish a record with the tax department. When you file your ITR,  it is proof that you have an income for which you have paid tax.

(Read : Which ITR form to file – AY 2016-17?)

Should I file Income Tax Return in India?

You are required/advised to file Income Tax Return in the following situations;

  • Gross Total Income: If your (individual tax assessee) gross total income exceeds Rs 2.5 Lakh you have to file your tax return. The cut off limits for Senior citizens (who are more than 60 years old but less than 80 years old) and very Senior citizens (who are more than 80 years old) are Rs 3 Lakh and Rs 5 Lakh respectively. Kindly note that the gross income is before allowing any tax deductions under different sections like 80c, 80D, 80G, 80E etc., (Read : List of income tax deductions.)
  • NRI : The above income slabs are also applicable for an NRI. Income earned or accrued in India is taxable in India. Income neither received nor accrued in India is treated as Foreign Income. You can ignore such income while filing your income tax returns in India.NRI Taxable income Income Tax Return filing in India
  • Carry forward of Losses : If you have incurred any losses like Capital losses, business losses etc., under any Head of Income and would like to carry forward them to next Financial Year, you have to file your ITR. (Read : How to set off Capital losses on Stocks or Mutual Funds?)
  • Refund: If you have to claim REFUND, e-filing of ITR is mandatory.
  • Foreign Assets : If you are a Resident Indian and have an ownership interest in any entity located outside India, you have to file ITR (even if you do not have any taxable income in India).
  • TDS : If TDS has been deducted on your Salary and/or on income from other sources like interest income of FDs/RDs etc., it is advisable to file ITR even if you have no tax dues. (Read : Misconceptions on TDS)
  • High Value Financial Transactions : If you have done any high value transactions, it is advisable to file your tax return. For example – If you make cash deposits aggregating Rs 10 lakh or more in a financial year in one or more Bank accounts of a person then Bank(s) will report to the IT department. (Read : List of High Value financial transactions)
  • Compliance Notice : If you have been filing your ITRs for the past few years, it is better to continue filing ITR even if you have no taxable income in a particular financial year. Else, you may end up getting ‘compliance notice’ from the IT department for non-filing of Income Tax Return. (Read : How to reply to Compliance Notice for non-filing of Tax Returns)
  • Exempt Income : If you have received any income which is exempt from income-tax, you can declare it in your tax return to show it as proof of your income. For example : If you receive ‘interest income from tax free bonds’ (this income is tax exempted) of Rs 7 Lakhs and you have salary income of Rs 50,000 only then you are advised to file ITR. While there is no need to file your tax returns, you are advised to file because it is proof that you have income, even if it is not taxable.

Budget 2019-20

The General Budget 2019-20 has proposed to make return filing compulsory for persons;

  • Who have deposited more than Rs. 1 crore in a current account in a year, or
  • Who have expended more than Rs. 2 lakh on foreign travel,
  • Electricity consumption bill of more than Rs. 1 lakh, or
  • Persons claiming the benefits of tax exemption for long term capital gains under various provisions under section 54 of the Income Tax Act.

Should I file Tax Return even if I have no Taxable Income?

Filing of Income Tax Returns has its own benefits. If you are planning to take a Loan or apply for a Visa, a proof of income tax return filing may be required from you. Even if you have no taxable income, you can file your tax return. You can build proof of your finances/income.

Another scenario can be, your income might be below the taxable limit but your employer would have cut TDS (tax deducted at source) OR you might have earned some income through part-time consultancy work and the company would have deducted TDS at 10 per cent. So, in this case you are entitle to get ‘refund’ of TDS as your income is lower than the taxable limit. For claiming this refund, you have to file your tax return.


It is estimated that only 3% of over 1 billion people in our country are liable to pay income tax. Tax evasion is being done by both small and big tax payers. The number of people who declare annual income of over Rs.1 crore is abysmally low at just around 50,000.

Tax evasion is illegal. Do note that non-disclosure of income & non-filing of ITR may attract penalties and also has severe consequences. So, file your income tax return on time.

Latest News (29-July-2016)The last date for filing Income Tax Returns for Assessment Year (AY) 2016-17 has been extended to August 5, 2016.

(Image courtesy of Mister GC at (Post published on : 12-July-2016)

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  • yashpal singh rana says:

    dear sreekanth i have been filling itr2 for last 10 year in physical form as my income was less than required limit,i am also carrying forward long term loss in debt mutual fund for last seven year ,this year i have received arrears of jan 2006 till june2014,so my income rose where i have to fill on line return for AE 2017-18.can you please suggest how my loss will be adjusted.i will also adjust my LTCG debt mutual fund towards past loss

  • Dani says:

    I filed my first return myself on time this July for FY 2015-16. Recently figured that I had to file returns for FY 2014-15 as well, and owe tax of about 3,000 Rs.
    Can I still file the return on my own online after paying the tax including the 1% penalty per month (22% for 22 months)?
    If not what could I possibly do?
    Thank you.

  • Prem says:

    Hi Sir ,

    Im avid reader of your Blog . Im a Banker by profession , im getting additional income from the blogs which was created way back in my college days . Im making around 2.5-3 lakhs per annum via google adsense & other affiliate marketing . My question is , whether i have to include this online Income Under Other Income head for IT Payment ? I heard that Public Servants are supposed to do any other business ,is that true ? Kindly guide me with this .

    Thanks in advance

    • Sreekanth Reddy says:

      Dear Prem,
      You may have to file your ITR 4 form and disclose the income from Blogging too besides your Salary income.
      Kindly check with your employer if you can continue blogging or not, i am not sure about this.
      Read: Which ITR form to file?

  • Ronnie Abraham says:

    Dear Sir,
    I went out of India in Aug. 2013. I worked in a gulf country for three years and I returned back to India this year in August 2016. There is no income tax in Gulf countries so I didn’t pay any tax to them or to Indian authorities during ghee three years. Before returning, I deposited all the money that I earned in Gulf in my NRI savings account. Now, I am in India from the last three and half months and I am planning to leave India on a student visa this time before completing 6 months of stay in India( 6 months required to be called a resident).
    Now sir, my question is whether I will be charged some kind of tax for the money that I have in my NRI savings account during this interim period?

  • Rajat says:

    Hi Sreekanth,

    Your articles indeed are very informative and thanks for the valuable advices that you provide to the readers.

    I have sold some equity mutual funds this month after holding them for over 9 years and made a profit of appox 90K. I understand these gains will be treated as LTCG and hence non-taxable.

    My query is – Do i necessarily have to declare this in my income and then show the exemption under LTCG while filing tax returns for the FY 2016-17?

    Thanks, Rajat

  • K.A. says:

    Hi Sreekanth ,

    I am a Patent professional and a Lawyer. I have two queries:
    1. What is the last date for filing ITR for professionals/consultants. I have been told that there is no last date for us.
    2. Do we have to file service tax?

    Thanks in advance

    • Sreekanth Reddy says:

      Dear KA,
      1 – I believe that last date (time-line) is applicable.
      2 – It depends on the gross receipts. Kindly consult a CA.

  • Sanjay Prasad says:

    Hi Sreekanth garu,

    I have a small query.

    I want to do RD for my Insurance premiums of ICICI and LIC Term Plans (Half Yearly payment) and Personal Accident (Yearly payment) taken as per your advice.

    Is there any possibility to avoid Tax within rules by starting RD in any of the family member’s name.? Are there any RDs that comes under Tax Exemption. (Checked Canara Bank’s Dhanvarsha but confused about it).

    If there is no possibility, is it better to do RD in my name itself.?

    Thanks you.

  • prasanna says:

    I am an NRI citizen. I am holding resident savings account in India and not yet converted the account to NRO. The interest earned in this domestic fixed deposits are TDS at 10% . The total income earned in India is less than 2.5 lakhS through bank fixed deposit interest. Also please note that this is the only income I earn in India.

    Can I claim the refund while filing the tax returns? Please advise.

  • Tarun says:

    Hello Srikanth,

    In last financial year, I lived in USA until October, 9th. From October 11 to March, 31, 2016 I was living in India and getting Indian salary. Now this Indian salary had taxes involved, accordingly I received Form-16. Now I understand that I need to file my tax return as a NRI because my stay in India was less than 182 days. But I am not able to get the correct DTAA article number, DTAA tax rate as required to file the return online. Please advise.

    I also consulted some CA’s and they suggested that I don’t need to declare my US salary, savings and taxed paid there. Some of my friends had similar scenario in last few years but all of them filed the return as Resident Indians, probably because they were unaware of 182 days rule. I just want to file the returns correctly. Please advise.

  • P P Karan says:

    I have couple of NRE deposits made two years back for a duration of 10 years. Bank is not deducting any TDS because it is tax free. I am planning to return to India for good by the end of this year. What will be the status of those deposits which have been made for 10 year period. Will it enjoy the tax free status till maturity. I now they can not be renewed.

  • Mrinal says:

    HI Srikanth,

    had a query regarding taxation of Capital Gains made on Foreign equity.
    My company has been allotting shares to be (listed in Europe ) by means of some monthly salary deduction against monthly allottment.

    I wanted to understand how wil LTCG & STCG will be taxed for me in AY 16-17 (residential status India).
    and what is the cutoff for STCG to be Classified as LTCG

    • Dear Mrinal,
      The taxation of sale of shares by the Indian Individual of the Foreign Company maybe treated as short term capital gains or long term capital gains, depending upon the time period within which it is sold after its purchase and its taxation will vary accordingly.
      If held for less than 12 months it is STCG. If for more than 12 months then LTCG.
      Income from sale of shares of a Foreign Company,will be taxable in India but the you need to also check about the DTAA (double taxation avoidance agreement) between India & the foreign country.
      Suggest you to take help of a CA or your employer’s finance team.

  • Deepak says:

    Dear Srikanth, your website is an ocean of knowledge for common man! Keep up helping people like this. I’ve one question-
    I’ve salary income from private MNC have form 16, ad-sense income, FD interest income, and little savings a/c income. I’ve sold some old used items on ebay, and got some income from it reflected in my bank a/c. And did some online tuition, fees sent to my savings a/c online.
    My question is which ITR file should I use to claim return? I’ve not submitted 15G/H form.

    • Dear Deepak ..I believe that it is better you file ITR 4 form.

      • Deepak says:

        Thanks for the reply Srikanth! I recently purchased a flat with home loan. I heard that this FY first time home purchaser’s get additional 50000 tax benefit. How to claim that? A complete guide is required. What documents should I ask from bank for that?

        • Dear Deepak ..That is applicable from AY 2017-18.

          First time Home Buyers can claim an additional Tax deduction of up to Rs 50,000 on home loan interest payments u/s 80EE. The below criteria has to be met for claiming tax deduction under section 80EE.

          The home loan should have been sanctioned in FY 2016-17.
          Loan amount should be less than Rs 35 Lakh.
          The value of the house should not be more than Rs 50 Lakh &
          The home buyer should not have any other existing residential house in his name.

          • Deepak says:

            Great explanation Srikanth! As per your guidance, I decided to e-file ITR4 for AY 2016-17. But when I log in to and choose Quick E-File, only ITR1 and ITR4S is available for e-filing. How to file ITR4 online to claim tax return? I have not given form 15G/H.

          • Dear Deepak..You need to download ITR -4 Excel utility, provide all the details in ITR, generate XML file and then upload it on IT E-filing website.
            After that you can e-verify the return by generating an EVC code.

  • Mahesh says:

    Hi Sreekanth,

    I received form-16 from two employers.(One employer for the period of April 2015 to July 2015 and second employer for the period Aug 2015 to March 2016).

    First employer have not entered any HRA amount and Medical allowances amount(for the 4 months) in PART-B. Now how i can i claim/submit these allowances. If i doesn’t claim, i have to pay tax for it. Is there a way to claim?


  • S. K. Babbar says:

    For salary of March 16 from Singapore tax will be deducted in dec16. I will become nri in FYI 16-17. Do I need to include salary of March 16 received in Singapore in my Fy 15-16 tax filing in India.

  • arvind says:

    Sir ,I Have income from salary & Tution ,which itr form i shoud file

  • S.K. says:

    While using ITR-1 Is there any limit on the amount of EXEMPT INCOME we can indicate? Was beneficiary in Fixed Deposit due to nomination by my mother & also as surviving joint Fixed Deposits holder. Can such amounts be shown as EXEMPT INCOME?

    How many times can ITR be revised using option u/s 139(5)?

    • Dear S.K.,
      Ideally if exempt income is more than Rs 5,000, CAs do suggest to use other ITR forms like ITR 2a or ITR2.
      But as this is only for reporting purposes, one can still report this in ITR1.
      No restriction on numbers of times: There is no rule or provision in income tax act which prevents tax payer to revise his return. A tax payer can revise his return as many times as he thinks fit. The only condition is time period. He can’t revise return after time limit prescribed by section 139(5) of Income Tax Act.

      Time line : Can furnish a revised return within one year from the end of the relevant assessment year or before the assessment is made (processed), whichever is earlier.

  • pardeep says:

    sir it is mandatory for everyone who’s having PAN card and income nill to file income tax. .and sir from where I can learn how to file income tax online

    • Dear pardeep,
      It is not mandatory to file tax return if income is NIL.
      You can google about ‘how to file ITR online’ and you can find plenty of good sites/articles on this topic.
      You can also find some tutorials at IT e-filing website.

  • Sunny says:

    My son received a gift of Rs 1.25L from his Maternal Uncle (Mama, i. e. Mother’s Brother) transferred from his Uncle’s NRE account. Do I have to show that as income? If so where exactly in ITR-2? I understand GIFTS are exempt from tax,, please clarify.

  • Sunny says:

    My son is employed. He is filing his tax return for 1st time online, using ITR-2 since he has STCG on Equity Shares. Please guide us how to ACCURATELY insert the data shown on his EMPLOYER PROVIDED form16 on the ITR SALARY sheet. Your step by step assistance will be greatly appreciated.

  • Dr. Shiv Nath says:

    I am efiling the incometax returns on behalf of my parents. It is the first time I am doing it myself. Previously it was done by a Chartered Accountant. A few queries:
    1 Is there a rebate on Interest on SB A/C?
    2 Is the dividend on equity taxable? If Yes, then at which rate?
    3 If there is a profit on Short term capital gains, it attracts a tax @ 15%. But if there is a loss, is that deductible?

    • Dear Dr Shiv,
      1 – Savings account interest up to Rs10,000 exempt under Section 80TTA. If interest earned is more than 10,000 then balance amount will be taxable as before i.e considered as Income from Sources and taxed as per your slab rate. If the interest on saving bank account received is Rs. 15,500, then effectively only Rs. 5,500 will be taxable.
      2 – the dividends received are tax free in the hands of the investors. However, Budget 2016 proposed to levy 10% Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) in the hands of the investor who receives dividend of Rs 10 Lakh or more in a financial year.
      3 – Read: How to set off Short term Capital losses.

  • S.K. says:

    My mother passed away in February 2016. I & my elder brother are her 2 surviving, married sons. I wanted to file her tax return for the last time. In the income tax e-filing website, there are many complicated requirements for registering myself as surviving heir.
    1) In Mumbai, from where exactly & how to easily obtain LEGAL HEIR CERTIFICATE / SURVIVING FAMILY MEMBER CERTIFICATE which are being asked in order to register myself on the I.T. website as legal heir. Can I file my Late Mother’s ITR in the normal manner, like previously done, without going through all these hassles?

    2) What are the disadvantages to submitting ‘Registered Will’ for ? Will that not complicate matters by sharing too much information needlessly & could lead to subsequent harassment? 

    3) Are the proceeds of JOINT DEPOSITS where my late mother was First Holder,  encashed on 31.3.2016, after her death, need to be shown in my IT return, if so, where & how? Are these taxable?

    • Dear S.K.
      1 – It is necessary to provide the required details/documents. Legal representative has to register at the income tax website as Legal Heir with a list of documents.
      2 – I dint not understand your query? Kindly rephrase it.
      Read: Will & final testament.
      3 – Kindly take help of a CA and file the tax return.

    • S.K. says:

      Sir, Regarding my above Query #2, you asked me to rephrase it. A Will contains many personal details. If an applicant submits the will just to register as a legal heir, will it not lead to undue harassment due to various peesonal & financial details contained in the will and its beneficiaries?

      • Dear S.K.
        I believe that it is one of the documents that can be submitted to register as a legal heir. So, it is an optional thing. You can get legal heir certificate from local revenue office too.
        1. The legal heir certificate issued by court of law
        2. The legal heir certificate issued by the Local revenue authorities (like Tahasildar etc).
        3. The certificate of surviving family members issued by the local revenue authorities
        4. The registered will
        5. The Family pension certificate issued by the State/Central government.

        • S.K. says:

          Thank you, Sir. Can you clarify what will be the precise name of ‘local revenue authority’ in Mumbai city to get the ‘SURVIVING FAMILY MEMBER CERTIFICATE’? I applied at Mumbai Collector’s office & also at BMC (Mumbai Municipal Corporation’ & both say that they do not issue such a certificate.

          • Dear S.K. ,
            Kindly check at this address : Concerned Window , Mumbai City Collectorate , Old Custom House, ground floor, Fort Mumbai-01 .
            I got this on net, so I am not sure if this is the right place or not.
            Kindly check with a CA about the necessity of Legal heir certificate to file the ITR of a deceased person.
            I have noticed that one can file the return in his name and write Legal Heir of (deceased person name) and can file the return with the PAN number of the deceased.
            So, kindly take help of a CA.

  • S.K. says:

    1) Under section 80D Insurance Mediclaim Policy premium upto 25,000 is allowed. Normally, Service Tax @14.5% is also charged separately. My Mediclaim premium is 23,030 & service tax is additional Rs 2,450, can this Service Tax too can be claimed under Section 80D?

    2) My mother who was 85, passed away recently in Feb’16. I am filing her own ITR for the last time, can her hospitalisation bills amounting to Rs. 2,50,000 be claimed as deduction under 80D, (or at least upto Rs. 30,000)?

    • Dear S.K.
      1 – No.
      2 – Yes, if she does not have medical insurance.
      For very senior citizen above the age of 80 years, not eligible to take health insurance, deduction is allowed for Rs 30,000 toward medical expenditure.

  • Kuldip Gusain says:

    Is IT exempted for disable person.

  • S. K. says:

    1) My wife had invested around Rs 2L, in Post Office MIP (Monthly Income Plan), where Interest is either credited at the end of the month or on 1st/2nd of next month. For March 2016, MIP interest was credited in the next month. I have NOT included this amount for the FY 2015-16 since it was received in next FY. I will consider it as income for the subsequent FY 2016-17. Am I right in doing so?2) For CUMULATIVE FD’s with banks, I get an ACCRUED INCOME CERTIFICATE from them and show this interest as ‘INCOME FROM OTHER SOURCES’, even though it is not physically received by me. However, for ‘Savings Bank Accounts’, I am only considering as INCOME the ACTUAL INTEREST CREDITED by bank (not ‘accrued interest’, which is normally twice in the year. Am I right in doing so?

  • Charles says:

    I HV not filed my ITR from 2011 to 2014-15. But I have found out from TRACES TDS that TDS amount has been filed in my pan. In order to claim the ITR, I do not have any form-16. Can you tell me how to file ITR for those past few years without form-16, but with the TRACES TDS form

    • Dear Charles,
      Are you referring to claiming REFUND?
      Income Tax Returns for a financial year must be filed by the 31st of July of the next financial year. For example, Income Tax Returns of FY 2015-16 that end on 31st March 2016 will be due on 31st July 2016.

      In one financial year you can file your IT Returns for previous 2 financial years. For example – in the FY 2014-15, up till 31st March 2015, you can file return for the previous 2 financial years 2013-14 and 2012-13.

      In case if you receive a notice from I-T Department asking you to file your returns which go beyond 2 financial years, you can file past year IT returns too.

      • charles mano sylus says:

        Yes sir… It’s about refunds… But my question is can I file my ITR for those financial years using TRACES TDS form which I downloaded from the site … Because I cannot get the form 16 for those financial years…

        • Dear charles,
          You can not claim refunds in belated returns.
          As mentioned in my previous comment, you can file only for 2 previous financial years.
          Income Tax Returns for a financial year must be filed by the 31st of July of the next financial year. For example, Income Tax Returns of FY 2015-16 that end on 31st March 2016 will be due on 31st July 2016.

          In one financial year you can file your IT Returns for previous 2 financial years. For example – in the FY 2014-15, up till 31st March 2015, you can file return for the previous 2 financial years 2013-14 and 2012-13.

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