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Haven't received your I-T refund?

With the introduction and streamlining of electronic clearing services (ECS) by the income tax department, taxpayers have started receiving their refunds within the stipulated 90 days.
“Many individual taxpayers who opted for refund directly to their bank accounts last year, got money even within a month of filing. Cheques still take time,” says Rajeev Jain, an independent chartered accountant. He says this also includes amounts, as low as Rs 300, which earlier would take much longer.

The government recently introduced the new ITR forms that would be available for e-filing by the third week of June.

If you opted for the ECS facility and didn’t receive the refund within 90 days, there could possibly be a problem. Log on to NSDL Site, from the top menu select ‘service’ and then click on ‘status of tax refunds’. On the new page that opens up, you can enter your PAN Card details and the assessment year to check the status. There’s information available for the last 10 years. The status message will tell you the reason for which the refund was not initiated.

If the message says ‘refund not determined’, it means the taxpayer’s filing have not been processed so far. Income tax department is still working on it and there are no specific deadlines specified or guidance available on the period for processing of such return with the said status.

But if the status says ‘No e-filing has been done for this assessment year’, though you may have already filed returns; it means that either you didn’t send the acknowledgement slip (ITR-V) to the central processing centre (CPC) at Bangalore or it means that the I-T department has not received it for some reason. It could also mean that slip sent was not as per the instructions. The ITR-V should reach CPC within 120 days of filing of return. The print should be clear and not light or faded. The signature of the taxpayer should be in blue ink only. If you still have time, post another copy. If the period has elapsed, you will need to revise your return.

“Submit the ITR-V signed copy nevertheless, even if the stipulated time has passed. There have been times when the income tax department has suo moto extended the period for submission and the returns were treated as valid,” says Suresh Surana, founder RSM Astute Consulting Group. If the status says that the ‘refund is paid’, it could mean that the money is adjusted against any outstanding income tax demand of other years, as per the record of the Income Tax department.

“It could also be on account of defaults such as address given for dispatch is a foreign address, or mandatory information in respect of bank account is missing, or refund cheque dispatched was returned as the concerned party was not available at the address provided,” says Bhavin Shah, Associate Director - Direct Tax, BDO India.

The other common message that taxpayers receive is ‘no demand no refund’. This message implies that there is no tax payable or refundable to the taxpayer. This could also be because there are some deductions you have missed and therefore, no refund is applicable. In such cases, the taxpayer needs to file a revision.

If you are asked to contact jurisdictional assessing officer in the status message, it implies that CPC has processed the return and the same has been referred to the jurisdictional assessing officer either because the department has initiated assessment proceedings under Section 143 or there is a rectification, which cannot be processed by the CPC.

There are times when the Income Tax department finds errors in your returns and so they reject the refund claim. The taxpayer is usually informed via text message and email, which also states the reason.

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