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What Is Income Tax? Meaning, Eligibility, and Process

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what is income tax

Income tax in India represents a significant aspect of the country’s financial structure, influencing the economy and the individual taxpayer. Income tax payment is a financial and legal obligation in India under the 1961 Income Tax Act.

This complex system, governed by various laws and regulations, requires a thorough understanding to navigate effectively. Whether it’s details about the different income sources or tax-saving investments, such as tax-free bonds, taxpayers must provide financial information through Income Tax Returns (ITR) every year.

Having a clear understanding of income tax and tax filing is vital for meeting legal obligations and optimizing your finances. But what exactly is Income tax, and how is it charged?

 What is Income Tax? 

Income tax in India is a direct tax levied on the income of individuals, corporations, and other legal entities. This income includes your wages, salaries, salary arrears, profits, interest, dividends, and so on. 

The taxation structure also provides various exemptions, deductions, and credits that promote your savings, investments, and economic growth. You can leverage these provisions to optimize their tax liabilities, which will, in turn, maximize your finances. 

Income tax payment is a primary source of revenue for the Government of India, enabling it to fund public services, infrastructure development, and welfare schemes.

About the Income Tax Department, India 

The Income Tax Department is a government agency tasked with overseeing the implementation of the Income Tax Act, collecting taxes, and enforcing compliance. 

It operates under the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance and plays a critical role in the nation’s economic management.

 Income Tax Act of 1961 

The Income Tax Act of 1961 is the cornerstone legislation that governs income tax in India. It provides a comprehensive legal framework covering all aspects of taxation, from income definition and tax liability to penalties for evasion. Regular amendments to the Act ensure its relevance and effectiveness in the contemporary economic landscape. 

 Income Tax Return (ITR) 

An Income Tax Return (ITR) is a form taxpayers use to declare their income, expenses, tax deductions, and taxes paid during a financial year. 

Income tax filing is mandatory for individuals and entities that meet certain income criteria, and it also serves as a vital document for various financial applications.

The tax rates and slabs for income tax payment may vary, depending on the nature of income and the taxpayer’s category, making it imperative for taxpayers to stay updated with the latest tax regulations. The submission of ITR by the due dates assigned is mandatory. It is not only to report your income but also to claim applicable tax refunds, if any.

 e-Filing Income Tax 

E-filing is submitting income tax returns online through the Income Tax Department’s official website. It offers taxpayers convenience, efficiency, and security, along with instant acknowledgment of submission. 

The government has greatly encouraged the process, with numerous facilities providing easy compliance.

Who is Eligible for Income Tax Payment?

All Individuals earning over ₹2.5 lakhs annually for the old tax regime and ₹3 lakhs annually for the new tax regime are eligible for Income Tax payment.

These include the following taxpayer types:

  • Individuals under 60 years
  • Individuals between the ages of 60 and 80 years
  • Individuals aged over 80 years
  • Hindu Undivided Family (HUF)
  • Association of Persons (AOP)
  • Artificial Juridical Person (An Assessee who does not fall under any of the other categories included in the definition of Person)
  • Firms
  • Companies

Income Tax Forms 

ITR FormsResidencyIncomeAdditional Conditions 
ITR 1Resident(other than not ordinarily resident)Up to ₹ 50 lakh&Agricultural income  Up to ₹ 5,000Income from Salaries, one house property, and other sources 
ITR 2Individuals and HUFs More than ₹ 50 lakhIndividuals, Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), and HUFs that do not have income from profits and gains of business or profession.
ITR 3Individuals and HUFs More than ₹ 50 lakhIndividuals and HUFs having income from gains and profits of businesses or professions and not eligible for ITR 1, ITR 2, or ITR 4
ITR 4Firms (other than LLP), HUFs, and IndividualsUp to ₹ 50 lakh&Agricultural income  Up to ₹ 5,000Income from professions and businesses computed under sections 44ADA, 44AD, or 44AE
ITR 5Persons other than individual, HUF, company, and the person filing Form ITR-7
ITR 6Companies that have not claimed tax exemption under Section 11 need to use ITR 6
ITR 7Persons including companies needing to file their tax returns under Section 139(4A), Section 139(4B), Section 139(4C), Section 139(4D), Section 139(4E), and Section 139(4F).
ITR VAcknowledgment/Verification form used for verification of tax returns without a digital signature

Income Tax Payment Details 

Income tax payments can be made both offline and online, with various options available for different taxpayer categories. 

Advance tax, self-assessment tax, and TDS (Tax Deducted at Source) are some methods through which the government collects taxes.

Quick Guide for Income Tax Filing Online 

Filing an ITR online involves a streamlined process accessible through the E-filing portal. Here’s a concise guide to income tax online payment:

  1. Access the Portal: Visit the official Income Tax E-filing website and log in using your PAN as User ID, password, and captcha code.
  2. Navigate to the E-File Menu: Select ‘Income Tax Return’ under the ‘E-File’ menu to proceed to the Income Tax Return page.
  3. Enter Details: Your PAN is auto-filled. Specify the Assessment Year, ITR Form Number, and Filing Type, and choose ‘Prepare and Submit Online’ as the Submission Mode.
  4. Filing Mode: Select ‘Online’ as the mode of filing and click on ‘Proceed.’
  5. Select Status: Choose the applicable status – Individual, Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), or Firm/LLP
  6. Choose ITR Form: Opt from ITR 1 to ITR 4 for E-filing.
  7. Fill Sections: Provide the necessary information as required for each of the forms.
  8. Review Summary: The website will display a tax computation summary. After reviewing, enter residence details and click ‘Submit’.
  9. Verification: Choose a verification method (E-Verify now, E-Verify later, or send ITR-V to CPC Bengaluru) and complete the process with an EVC or OTP.
  10. Submit ITR: Finalize your income tax online payment submission. An acknowledgment will be sent to your email.


Understanding what income tax is and the importance of income tax filing and its implications is crucial. This legal obligation is vital in maximizing your finances legally. 

Moreover, if you’d like to reduce your tax liability when it comes to investments in direct equity and maximize your finances, consulting a SEBI-registered investment advisory can help.These services can offer personalized portfolio management services like quality advice for your direct equity investments to help you make sound financial decisions catered to your unique preferences.

FAQs on Income Tax

  1. What is income tax, in simple words?

    Income tax is a financial charge the government imposes on individuals, companies, and other entities based on their income or profits. In India, it's a key source of revenue for the government, used to fund public services and infrastructure.

  2. What are the top income tax deduction sections?

    India's top income tax deduction sections include:
    – Section 80C for investments in PPF, NSC, ELSS, life insurance, etc.
    – Section 80D for medical insurance premiums.
    – Section 80E for interest on education loans.
    – Section 80G for donations to charitable organizations.
    – Section 24 for interest on home loan repayment.

  3. What are the top investment options for 2024?

    For the financial year 2024, you can explore various investment options to save on taxes, including the Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Savings Certificate (NSC), Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS), and insurance policies, among others.
    These instruments not only provide tax benefits under various sections of the Income Tax Act but also help in financial planning and wealth creation.

  4. Who should pay income tax in India?

    In India, income tax must be paid by individuals earning above a certain threshold – ₹2.5 lakhs annually for the old tax regime and ₹3 lakhs annually for the new regime; companies, firms, and anyone with taxable income. The specific thresholds and rates can vary, with the government providing exemptions and deductions to reduce the tax burden.

  5. What is the definition of a “person” in income tax?

    In the context of Indian income tax, a “person” includes individuals, Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs), firms, companies, local authorities, Body of Individuals (BOIs), Association of Persons (AOPs), and any other artificial juridical person not covered under previous categories.

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I’m Archana R. Chettiar, an experienced content creator with
an affinity for writing on personal finance and other financial content. I
love to write on equity investing, retirement, managing money, and more.

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