Filing income tax returns - FY2013-2014

It is that time of the year when the annual income returns have to be filed.   It is still early (the last date is 31st July 2014), but yesterday I got a call from a relative of mine, saying he needed help filing tax returns online.

I pride myself on filing tax returns on my own.  In fact, I have written about the first time I filed returns online,   how quickly I got a refund once,  some tools I issues that I got last year, as well as the rectification proposal that I got.  So, I gave detailed instructions over phone on logging into the e-filing website, downloading the excel sheet, enabling macros and so on...

Then, for good measure, I decided to check it out myself, though I didn't expect it to be different.  But what do you know?

For assessment year 2014-2015 (i.e. financial year 2013-2014), there is no longer the Excel utility for filling income tax returns.  It has now been replaced with a java utility.  (Updated 26 July 2014.  Both excel and java utilities are now available) What does this mean?  Nothing to a tech-savvy person.  But for a layman, a macro-enabled excel itself is a challenge. Imagine handling the additional challenge of java.

I took the trouble to detail out the steps to do it and sent to my relative.

a)  Visit the e-filing website
b)  Create a login or if it exists login to the site
c)  Click on Download ITR link from the Quick link on the left
d)  Click on the Download link corresponding to the appropriate form - ITR 1, ITR 2, ITR 3, or ITR 4S (typically ITR 1 will suffice)
Assuming you chose ITR 1, a file with name will get downloaded.
e) Unzip it to a folder, say C:\ ITR-1_2014
f)  Check if you system has java by running the following from command prompt

java -version

It should show something like this:

java version "1.7.0_60"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.7.0_60-b19)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 24.60-b09, mixed mode)

g) If not, download and install java from java website.

h) If you did step g), do step f) again and confirm java works. Then in the same command prompt, go to the folder where you have unzipped the utility files.

cd C:\ITR-1_2014

Then run the command


It will open the following screen and thereafter you can fill the relevant sections...

This utility is different from the Excel.

a) You need to be connected to the internet in order to submit the returns (since the data is submitted from the tool directly, specifying the username/password and other details.
b) You can pre-fill a lot of information - personal details, as well as TDS details from 26AS, again by specifying your credentials.

But I didn't realize how hard it is for someone to get it working till I got a call from my relative today saying, he had followed all my instructions but nothing was happening.

"Hmm!  are you getting any errors?"
"What happens when you run java -version from the command line"
"I get java version "1.7.0_05"
"Ok, good"
"But nothing happens when I run "ITR"".

I open ITR.bat and see this line

start javaw -jar ITR-1_AY201415_PR4.jar

Hmm!  we are using javaw and it is starting in a new window, so you will not see errors, if any!

"Ok, can you type javaw on the command prompt and tell me what you see?"
"'javaw' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file."
"How about opening notepad, editing the ITR.bat and replacing javaw with java"

This one took a minute, but didn't help matters.
"Perhaps we can do skype?"
"No, I will send you the files and details. Can you please submit it for me?"

Evidently, java installation was corrupt or done incorrectly.   It was easier for me to file the tax returns for my relative (which took about 2 minutes).

I thought let me give a shot at doing my wife's.

Everything went off fine, till the time came to specify Tax details

TDS had been deducted on 31 March 2014 and submitted in May.  This showed up fine in 26AS, but the IT utility flatly refused to accept it with the following error

Deducted year cannot be greater than 2013 for A.Y 2014-2015

I had three choices

a) not to report the tax deduction - which didn't make sense, since it would not tally with 26AS
b) change the year to 2013 - then the submitted data would be incorrect and I would probably hear from IT department
c) raise a complaint on the tool

I went with option c)

In fact, I believe the whole problem with the rectification proposal last year was also related to goof-up in considering tax deductions made for one financial year, but paid in the next financial year (which is perfectly legal and valid).  Someone need to give these use cases to the tool developers/maintainers so that they can handle it!

You may now wonder like me - why desktop client for submitting IT returns?

Update: 16 June 2014

My ticket on the tool got Resolved with a message asking me to send an email to a specific id with the same details, the ticket number and a screenshot.   It is football season - and time to pass the ball!  I have done this - let us see what next.

Update: 17 June 2014

This is the reply I got.

Dear Taxpayer,

Thank you for contacting e-filing Helpdesk
You have to enter the starting year of the Finacial Year in which the Tax was deducted. In your case 2013 only.

Thanks & Regards,
E-Filing Helpdesk
Income Tax Department.

If I read it right, irrespective of when tax was deducted for FY 2013-2014, we should specify 2013 as the year in the red box in the picture.  Hopefully this helps others in similar situation.

By the way, as I looked for some instructions (or clues) from the Income Tax site to match the reply above, I could not help noticing this section in  e-Filing: Dos & Don't.  (You get this only after logging in). How layman unfriendly can it get?

Update: 26 July 2014

I decided to file my tax returns today.  For good measure I decided to login again and download the utility (in case there were any changes).  To my surprise, I saw the Excel utility was back again!

I downloaded both.  I extracted the java utility to find the jar file has changed - some bug fix probably!  (The issue above persists though)

All was well, until I decided to Submit the returns.  Password was entered correctly and I chose "No" to sign digitally.  Then I got the following - first

Please check your internet connectivity
Submission error

and then when I decided to try again

Message send failed
Submission error 2

Luckily Save button saves the XML generated by the tool.  I logged into the IT website and uploaded the xml thus generated and it was over in seconds.  


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