The annual tax return filing season is upon us once again. As you put together your income and investments to calculate how much you owe to the taxman, you must make sure that you refer to Form 26AS before you file your return.
What is it?
Form 26AS is a statement of tax credit generated by the Income-Tax Department based on your PAN number for every financial year. It contains details of the tax deducted on your behalf by employers, the bank/institution in which you have an investment and sale/purchase or rent of immovable property.
It also has details of advance tax or self-assessment tax paid by you, refunds by the I-T Department as well as the high-value transactions that you have entered into during the course of the year.
Form 26AS can be viewed through your net banking account or by registering on the TDS reconciliation website – TRACES or by logging into your e-return filing account on the tax department’s website.
Why is it important?
While we file our tax return each year, we tend to ignore the details captured in Form 26AS. But the taxman uses Form 26AS as his ready-reckoner to pick up details related to your incomes, investments, big-ticket purchases spends and tax liability for the year. To calculate how much you owe, the tax officer matches the details in your Form 26AS with what you have declared in the tax return. Hence it is vital that both the documents are in sync.
But this is easier said than done as errors and omissions do creep up. For example, Form 26AS picks up the TDS details on our incomes based on what is uploaded by the deductor.
So, if the deductor fails to file the TDS return on time, makes mistakes when filing, omits your details or gets your PAN wrong in his return, 26AS details may not match with the TDS credit you have claimed in your return.
Mistakes could also arise when you are paying advance tax or self-assessment tax – when you fill in the wrong amount in the challan or when banks incorrectly furnish details of tax deposited by you. You may even forget to include or omit certain incomes in your returns, for which taxes have been captured in Form 26AS.
Why should I care?
If there is a mismatch between numbers in the return and Form 26AS, problems crop up when your return is processed. A few months after the return filing deadline (usually July 31 of each year), the department sends an e-mail intimation to assessees regarding the processing.
Titled ‘Intimation under sec 143(1)’, this statement will show the computation of income tax as done by you and as done by the department side by side.
A discrepancy could result in the department asking for more taxes according to their calculations. You are expected to pay the entire demand within 30 days of receipt of this intimation.
You cannot but take notice of any mismatch issues with Form 26AS and may have to write to the department explaining the reasons when you receive such intimation.
If the mistake was made during advance-tax/self-assessment tax payment, you need to correct the challan at the bank where you made the payment.
If the issue is TDS-related and the fault is not on your part, you can request your employer or the bank/institution which deducted the amount to take corrective action. If you have missed out any income for which tax details have been captured, you need to revise your return.
With Form 26AS around, there’s no room for errors, whether you make them or someone else does.