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The darkest hour of any man's life is when he sits down to plan how to get money without earning it. —John Ruskin British philosopher (1819-1900)

I don’t need to file returns if I don’t pay taxes

That’s not true! You have to file your income tax returns if your taxable income for a year (April-March) exceeds the maximum amount that is exempt from tax—which, under the prevailing tax slabs, is Rs 50,000 a year. This is so even if you do not have to pay any tax or have paid excess tax. If not, you are violating the law!

You will have to file returns if:

  • Your taxable income in a given financial year is more than Rs 50,000.

  • You run a partnership firm (in which case, you need to file returns even if your income in a given financial year is less than Rs 50,000).

  • You run a co-operative society, company or local authority (again you need to file returns even if your income in a given financial year is less than Rs 50,000).

  • You have paid some tax (by way of TDS or advance tax) during the course of the year, and then find you have made enough investments by the end of the year either to reduce your tax liability or make it nil. Then, you will need to file returns to claim a refund. Of course, it’s up to you whether you want a refund or not; it won’t be a statutory offence if you don’t file returns.

  • You have suffered a business, professional, speculative business or capital loss (whether short-term or long-term in nature). If you don’t file returns in the year you incur the loss, you won’t be allowed to set it off against gains in subsequent years. Again, there is no penalty for not filing returns.

  • You don’t come under any of the above but satisfy one of the six criteria specified by the Income Tax Act.
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