With the advent of computerisation, everything has now gone online – newspaper has been replaced by e-newspaper, greeting cards have been replaced by e-greeting cards and income tax returns have been replaced by e-income tax returns.

The computerisation of the first 2 examples was easy as authentication is not as much a matter of concern as it is in case of filing of the Income Tax Return. It is very important that all correct particulars are stated in the Income Tax Return and the person furnishing the same submits a declaration that all particulars stated are true and fair to the best of his knowledge.

Signing a declaration is easy in case of paper filing as the declarant can easily sign the declaration. But how can we sign this declaration while submitting documents online???

This was 1 reason that it took some time for the government to initiate the process of online filing on Income Tax Returns but now with technology like Digital Signature Certificates being easily available, furnishing an Income Tax Return online is just a click away.

What is a Digital Signature Certificate?

A Digital Signature is a Certificate for demonstrating the authenticity of the digital message or document. The presence of a Digital Signature of a person indicates that the person adopts the contents of that electronic message. Every Individual is allotted a different Digital Certificate which helps in identifying which Digital Signature belongs to which person.

A digital signature authenticates electronic documents in a similar manner a handwritten signature authenticates printed documents. This signature cannot be forged and it asserts that a named person wrote or otherwise agreed to the document to which the signature is attached. The recipient of a digitally signed message can verify that the message originated from the person whose signature is attached to the document and that the message has not been altered either intentionally or accidentally since it was signed. Also the signer of a document cannot later disown it by claiming that the signature was forged. In other words digital signatures enable the “authentication” and “non-repudiation” of electronic messages assuring the recipient of the electronic message of both the identity of the sender and the integrity of the message.

The Digital Certificates are typically issued with 1 year validity and 2 year validity. It includes the cost of medium (a UBS token which is a one-time cost) the cost of issuance of Digital Certificate and the renewal cost after the period of validity.

Applicability of Digital Signature while uploading Income Tax Return

In India, Digital Signatures are issued by a licensed certifying authority and the Information Technology Act, 2000 grants it the same status as a physical signature.

Digital Signatures are usually used at the time of statutory and other filings like Income Tax Returns which have to be mandatorily signed at the time of submission. In case you are furnishing these Returns online, there are 2 ways of signing the Income Tax Return

  1. Using Digital Signatures (Explained Below)
  2. Using Handwritten Signatures (i.e. taking a print out of the Return uploaded online, signing it and then manually sending the paper return to the Income Tax Office in Bangalore)

Exception: Vide notification dated 9th July 2010 amending Rule 12, the CBDT has made it mandatory all Companies filing ITR-6 to digitally sign the I-T return for AY 2010-11.

Registering Digital Signature Certificate on Income Tax Website

  • Login with your User-id and Password on the Income Tax efiling website i.e. www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in
  • Under the tab – My Account click Digital Signature
  • Select the appropriate type of DSC (.pfx or USB token) and then click on “Select your .pfx file certificate)

Digital Certificate Verification

In case the Income Tax Assessee is an Individual/ HUF – the email id as registered in his Digital Certificate shall match the email id as per his registered profile in the efiling website. In case of non-individuals like Firms, Companies etc., the person in holding the Digital Certificate shall either be the Director/Partner in the Key Person schedule of the Firm/Company.

Uploading Income Tax Return Online

  1. Prepare your Income Tax Return and Generate the XML File and save it on your computer
  2. Login to your account on https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/portal/login.do by submitting your user-id and password
  3. Click Submit Return and then select the assessment year

After selecting the Income Tax Form Name, select the type of Digital Signature and then upload your Income Tax Return using the Digital Signature Certificate.