Come tax-filing time of the year and a cringing feeling crops up among taxpayers. It isn’t the resentment to file returns, but the remembrance of forgotten refunds over the years that wriggles them. Taxpayers invariably recall refunds only when they file fresh returns for the next financial year.
Frantic checks on bank account statements follow and they realize refunds haven’t yet found their way to their bank accounts. If this has been your story too, then you need to take pre-emptive steps to claim your own money back as no law restricts the time limit within which the income tax department should return your money.
The only benefit that you get would be the interest on the money that hasn’t been refunded. But the miniscule interest of 6% per annum that you receive wouldn’t help you beat inflation as much as the same money invested in appropriate instruments.
You should start by checking the status of your refund, which isn’t a cumbersome process any more. Keep your permanent account number (PAN) handy and find the status of your refund on the website https://tin.tin.nsdl.com/oltas/refundstatuslogin.html. Ensure you have entered the correct assessment year (a year succeeding the financial year). For those who aren’t internet savvy, the refund status can be checked via help desk numbers 18004259760, 18004252229 or 18001801961. An email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com should help you find the status too.
Alternatively keep an eye for the intimation from the income tax department under Section 143 (1), which is nothing but a proof that your returns have been processed. You would get this notice in case the I-T Department, while processing your returns finds –
Whether you file your income tax returns manually or electronically there are three major reasons refunds are still mislaid. But getting them back might not be arduous.
If you have moved your residence after filing the returns or reside in a place, different from the one mentioned while applying for a PAN, chances are the cheque would have reached the old address or reverted. If you reside in the same city and the new landlord is friendly enough you can check with them about your refund cheque.If visits to the old neighbourhood don’t work then you can approach the assessing officer of your I-T Ward if you had filed returns manually.
You need to work on updating the address, especially if the refund status reflects “Party shifted”, “No such address”, “House locked” or “No such person”. But, if you have filed your returns online then the change in address needs to be intimated in the form of a request letter along with proofs to the Central Processing Centre (CPC) in Bangalore. A fresh cheque would accordingly be issued.
Incorrect Bank details
Incorrect MICR, Account closed, Account description incorrect all reflect mistakes on part of the taxpayer on entering the bank details in the tax return. You would need to update the bank account details and request re-issuance either online or to the CPC Bangalore for e-filed returns and the assessing officer for physical returns.
Erroneous TDS details
Your Form 26AS can help you cross check the details of taxes deducted. This will also tell you whether your employer or client who cut taxes, has deposited the same with the government.
If any particular tax deduction doesn’t reflect in your Form 26AS or annual tax statement then you would have to approach the deductor and ask them whether PAN, name and other details are correct. You need to correct these before asking for re-issuance of refunds.
Your way out
If any of these issues is plaguing your refunds then,those who have filed returns online starting assessment year 2008-09 and have received a notice,have an option of requesting a refund re-issue online on the website www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in.
You would need to keep your user id and password that you used to file returns handy. Also, a copy of the Notice under Section 143(1)154 sent to you would be needed as the “CPC Communication Reference Number” and “Refund Sequence Number” need to be keyed in.
While requesting a re-issue of refund you are permitted to change the mode of receiving refunds (cheque or ECS), the bank account details or even the address, whether it be the one mentioned on tax return, PAN card database or a new address.
Those who have filed a paper return need to visit the assessing officer of your ward and carry the necessary documents to ask for re-issuance of refund. If the visits don’t pay off you can seek the help of the Commissioner – Income Tax of your ward or even the Income Tax Ombudsman, provided you have communicated with the assessing officer earlier and have proofs of the communication.
After claiming refunds
Once you get hold of your income tax refunds, don’t blow it all away like it is a windfall gain. It is your own money coming back to you, which perhaps has lost its value (read purchasing power) over the years.
In the merry of receiving your refunds, don’t forget to take the following steps to avoid refund snags and delays in the following years: update your address in the PAN database, verify bank details mentioned in the tax returns, invest for tax saving well in time and submit investment proofs within deadlines to avoid hefty deductions from salary.