Now let us look at the process of Income tax efiling using the digital signature, the so called totally paperless process for income tax efiling.
First a few facts:
It is correct that you do not have to submit any papers to the Income tax department as the whole process of sending your data and signing your return is paperless. But before you smile and decide to go this way hoping to save a tree or two let me bring back you to terra firma.
True that the department of IT does not need any paper if you are filing your return using digital signature but the process of getting the digital signature is not paperless.
First you need to understand that the Income Tax department does not issues the digital signature, you have to obtain the same from entities called Certifying agencies. A list of the same is given on this link.
You will have to pay for the same and the price varies. I used the http://www.taxmile.com/ for filing my IT return and their sister company e-mudhra.com has the facility to give you the digital signature also all for around 400 INR.
But in order to get the digital signature you will have to fill a form which in taxsmile’s case was 4 pages, then you had to send a copy of your address proof (Passport/Driving licences/ Ration card etc) , and a copy of your PAN card certified by either your bank manager or some other authority like notary or a gazetted officer. So since you have to take printouts of the form 4 pages and the address proof and pan card 2 pages you still have 6 papers involved in the whole process. Thus the whole idea of going paperless is actually not true.
So if you want to go for efiling go for it but be very clear it is not a paperless process and you will have to deal with printing and sending papers at some stage not matter whether you are using digital signature or not.
Thanks for reading.