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  • e-Return Intermediary

    In order to better integrate and consolidate the interactions between the Income Tax Department and the taxpayers, the Income Tax Department introduced a scheme known as the Electronic Furnishing of Return of Income Scheme 2007. This scheme was launched with the purpose of authorising certain intermediaries to assist taxpayers by filing their tax returns on their behalf. Any taxpayer who is deemed to be ‘tax assessable’ can avail of this scheme.

    What are e-Return Intermediaries?

    As per the scheme, taxpayers have the option to submit their tax returns electronically through a liaison or intermediary. These authorised individuals who assist taxpayers by filing their income tax returns on their behalf are known as e-Return Intermediaries. These intermediaries are officially appointed and authorised by the Income Tax Department to carry out such tasks. All individuals who wish to serve as e-Return Intermediaries are required to register themselves online with the NSDL provided they meet the eligibility criteria laid down by the Income Tax Department prior to the submission of their application.

    Eligibility Criteria for e-Return Intermediaries:

    The following entities are eligible to register to become an e-Return Intermediary provided they fulfil certain predetermined criteria:

    • A Public Sector Organisation or Company, which possesses an authentic PAN (Permanent Account Number)

    • Any company with a net worth of more than Rs 1 crore that has been incorporated and registered in India, and possesses an authentic PAN number

    • An organisation of Chartered Accountants that possess an authentic PAN number

    • A firm or organisation of advocates that possess an authentic PAN number

    • An organisation of company secretaries that possess an authentic PAN number

    • Any chartered accountant who holds an authentic PAN number

    • Any advocate who holds an authentic PAN number

    • Any company secretary who holds an authentic PAN number

    • Any person authorised to prepare tax returns, provided they possess an authentic PAN number

    • Any government department disbursing officer or drawing officer who possesses an authentic TAN number

    Pre-requisites for e-Return Intermediaries:

    In order to be considered eligible to apply to become an e-Return Intermediary, all entities are required to be in possession of the following:

    • A Class II or III Digital Signature Certificate acquired through a licensed NSDL approved certifying authority. This is required for digitally approving and signing the uploaded online returns as well as the submitted application. This certificate is required to be in the applicant’s name. However, the applicant should provide and authorised letter in case the certificate is in an employee’s name or the name of a partner

    • The entity is also required to possess the following necessary hardware:

      • A Central Processing Unit of more than 500 MHz

      • RAM of at least 256 MB

      • An 800 X 600 pixel screen resolution with a 256 colour display monitor

      • A dedicated storage space of at least 20 GB on the hard drive

      • An UPS for backup power for at least 30 minutes

      • A DAT drive or a CD writer or any other device that can be used for backup

      • A working printer

    • The entity is also required to possess the following necessary software:

      • An operating system of Windows 98 or higher

      • Any sufficient anti-virus software

      • Any browser higher than IE 6.0

    • The entity should possess internet connectivity of sufficient speed

    • The computer system used by the entity should only have programs allowed by the Income Tax Department along with required procedures in place that provide security of data

    • A due diligence certificate acquired from an authorised ISA or CISA professional should be submitted by the entity

    • The entity should not possess a criminal record

    Registration Procedure for e-Return Intermediaries:

    e-Return Intermediaries are required to follow the procedure below in order to apply for registration:

    • Any entity that is considered eligible will be required to register himself or herself as an e-Return Intermediary with the NSDL via online means by filling in and submitting the relevant form of registration according to the given instructions. Any applications submitted physically will not be accepted

    • Should the application be confirmed and verified, the entity will be directed to a screen which will display an unique 15 digit number of acknowledgement

    • This acknowledgement will have to be downloaded, saved and printed by the entity

    • The entity will then be required to sign the acknowledgement

    • This signed acknowledgement will then be required to be submitted to the NSDL with the following:

      • Eligibility proof

      • Certificate of due diligence

      • The fee of Rs 4,000 incurred for registration

      • PAN or TAN card, as per the disposition of the entity

    Roles and Responsibilities of e-Return Intermediaries:

    e-Return Intermediaries are required to perform the following roles and responsibilities:

    • They are required to make sure that the taxpayer or the assessee fulfils the eligibility criteria to avail of the scheme

    • To make sure that the PAN or TAN number quoted by the taxpayer is authentic

    • To make sure that all information relating to TDS, tax paid in advance and self assessment taxes are authentic in relation with the submitted documents

    • To make sure that the taxpayer has entered and confirmed the correct details on the physical tax return form

    • To make sure that the data or information relating to tax returns is accurate prior to submission

    • To make sure the returns are filed electronically on or prior to the filing date

    • To make sure that the assessee has verified the ITR-V Form

    • To make sure that all electronic data relating to the tax returns are retained for at least a year after the assessment year ends

    • To make sure that the taxpayer receives a physical copy of the following:

      • The e-return

      • The receipt of acknowledgement of the ITR-V Form

    • The ensure all information received is entire confidential, and can only be used after acquiring permission of the taxpayer

    • To make sure that all the terms, provisions and conditions outlined by the scheme are followed the individuals working under him

    • To ensure that any changes in the data submitted in the application is intimated to the Registrar

    • To adhere to the rules and regulations outlined by the e-Return Administrator

    Benefits of Tax Filing Through an e-Return Intermediary:

    Taxpayers can avail of a number of benefits by filing their taxes electronically through an e-Return Intermediary. Some of the benefits are outlined below:

    • E-filing via an intermediary is quicker and doesn’t take up much time. It is a convenient and less cumbersome way for taxpayers to file their tax returns

    • If eligible, taxpayers can receive tax refunds within a period of one or two months should they file their returns through an e-Return Intermediary

    • All information provided by the taxpayer through an e-Return Intermediary are secure and confidential

    • Filing through e-Return Intermediaries also reduces any instances of mistakes or errors while filing tax returns as the system immediately highlights inaccurate data that has been filled in, and notifies the user to enter the correct information.

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