Filing your income tax return (ITR) is a routine affair if your income is above the taxable limit. However, have you considered a situation where your income is below the taxable limit for the year? Do you still need to file your income tax return?
If you have been wondering about this, here is a look at reasons why you should consider filing your ITR even if your income is below the taxable limit.
Know your exemption limits
In most financial years, the Finance Ministry updates the limits to which income is exempted from tax. Keep a check on whether your income qualifies for exemption.
Exemption limit for Assessment Year 2016-17
You are exempted from income tax if your income does not exceed Rs 2.5 lakh. However, this exemption is only for individuals under 60 years of age.
If you are between ages 60 and 80, you are exempted from income tax with an income of up to Rs 3 lakh.
For individuals aged 80 years and above, the limit is enhanced to Rs 5 Lakh.
Should you file your returns?
While it is not mandatory for you to file your income tax returns if your income is below the exempted limit, you can—and you should—file a tax return for a non-taxable income. This has its benefits, which are discussed below.
Here are five benefits to filing your tax returns.
1. You can get your capital gains or losses adjusted: If you are investing in the equity market and have been buying or selling shares, filing an income tax return may be beneficial for you. As long as your total income is below the exemption limit, there is no compulsion to file an ITR. But you can get your short term capital losses adjusted against capital gains. What’s more, this adjustment can be carried forward for eight years as and when you submit your ITR for the respective year.
2. You will need ITR to claim any tax refunds: Once tax is deducted, any tax refund is facilitated only when you submit your income tax return for that year. So any TDS on rent payments for NRIs, or TDS deduction by banks on your fixed deposits will be refunded only once you file your tax returns and claim the desired tax deduction. You will need to file for tax refunds online once you file your ITR for that year.
3. ITR is required when you are applying for loans: Since your ITR is not just a financial document but also indicates your annual earnings, banks and NBFCs seek copies of your ITR when you approach them for a loan. Filing your returns despite having no taxable income will increase your chances of getting a loan approved as compared to someone with the same earnings but no ITR filings.
4. ITR is needed to claim any tax deductions: The Rs 2.5 lakh exemption limit is on your gross income. So, if your income is higher than Rs. 2.5 lakh, and you are seeking various tax exemptions to bring your income below that level, you will need to file your income tax returns. Even when there is no tax liability, filing of your ITR is mandatory in order to seek any tax deduction under various sections of the I-T Act.
5. ITR is mandatory if you own foreign assets: As an Indian resident, if you own any foreign assets, you are required to file your income tax returns as per law. This includes having movable or non-movable foreign assets including a bank account overseas. Failure to disclose your foreign holdings can lead to a possible fine and is considered to be an economic offence.
The author is CEO, BankBazaar.com