IndiaFilings » Learn » ITR-1 » How To File Nil Income Tax Return?

How To File Nil Income Tax Return?


How To File Nil Income Tax Return?

Many individuals earning less than Rs. 2.5 lakh in a financial year, they believe they don’t need to file an income tax return. However, it’s essential to understand that even though an Indian citizen doesn’t need to pay income tax or file an ITR if their annual earnings are below the basic exemption limit, filing a Nil Return is beneficial in various ways. The process for filing a Nil Return is identical to a regular return, and the same forms are used. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on everything you need about Nil Returns.

Note: Under the new tax regime, the basic exemption limit has been increased to Rs 3 lakh from Rs 2.5 lakh.

File your ITR effortlessly with IndiaFilings! Whether you need to file a regular ITR or a Nil return, our experts are here to help.

Get Started!

What is a Nil Return?

A nil income tax return is filed by individuals whose taxable income is below the basic exemption limit, indicating they are not required to pay any income tax for that financial year. By filing a nil return, you formally notify the Income Tax Department that you either had no income or did not exceed the taxable threshold. Although it is not mandatory under the Income Tax Act for those earning less than the basic exemption limit to file a return, doing so can be beneficial for various reasons, such as loan applications or carrying forward losses. A nil return, therefore, serves as a declaration that no taxes were due for the specified financial year and is filed using the same process as a regular income tax return.

Tax Exemption Limits in Different Tax Regimes

The basic exemption limit, the threshold below which no income tax is payable, varies depending on your selected tax regime. Here’s a breakdown:

Old Tax Regime

  • Under 60 years of age: The basic exemption limit is Rs 2,50,000.
  • Ages 60 to 80 years: The exemption limit increases to Rs 3,00,000.
  • Over 80 years of age: The limit is Rs 5,00,000 for senior citizens.

New Tax Regime

  • For all ages: The basic exemption limit is Rs 3,00,000 regardless of age.

When is Filing a Nil Tax Return Beneficial?

Filing a nil-tax return is beneficial and sometimes necessary under several circumstances, even if your income exceeds the taxable limit. Here are the key scenarios when you might choose to file a nil return:

Proof of Income

  • For Official Documentation: Filing a nil income tax return serves as proof of income, which can be crucial when applying for a visa, getting a passport, or in any other scenario where you need to prove your income officially.
  • Early Career Documentation: If you’re starting your career and your income is below the taxable limit, filing a nil return helps maintain a continuous financial record. This can be beneficial later when you apply for loans or credit cards, as it shows a history of compliance with tax laws.

To Claim a Refund

Even if your income is above the taxable threshold initially, deductions under Section 80C and other provisions can bring it below the exemption limit. If tax has been deducted at source (TDS) or you have paid advance tax based on the original income, you must file a nil return to claim a refund of the excess tax paid.

To Carry Forward Losses

You must file a tax return to carry forward losses, especially capital losses, and offset against future capital gains. This is mandatory even if you have no taxable income for the current year. Filing a nil return allows you to carry forward losses, which can be adjusted against future gains, thereby reducing your future tax liability.

In each case, filing a nil return is a strategic decision that can provide financial and legal advantages, ensuring you can effectively manage your income and losses.

Benefits of Filing a Nil Income Tax Return (ITR)

Filing a Nil Income Tax Return, even when your income falls below the taxable limit, can offer numerous advantages. Here are the key benefits of filing a Nil ITR:

Authentic Proof of Income

  • Trusted Documentation: A Nil ITR is a robust and legally accepted document detailing your financial status. Financial institutions and other agencies widely recognize it as authentic proof of income.
  • Facilitates Financial Transactions: Whether you are applying for a credit card, securing a loan, or engaging in any financial transactions, a Nil ITR is often required to establish your income history and economic behaviour.

To Claim a Refund

  • Recover Overpaid Taxes: Sometimes, Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) is deducted from your income, even if your total income is below the exemption limit. Filing an income tax return is essential to claiming a refund of such TDS.
  • Ensures Refunds Are Received: By filing a Nil ITR, you ensure that any excess tax paid is returned to you, which wouldn’t be possible without filing the return.

Legal Proof While Applying for Loans

  • Strengthens Loan Applications: Banks and financial institutions often request the last three to five years of income tax returns when approving loans. A Nil ITR can significantly support your application by providing legal proof of your financial history.
  • Improves Creditworthiness: Regular filing of ITRs, including Nil returns, helps build a financial record that enhances your credibility with lenders.

Applying for a Visa

  • Essential for Visa Processes: Many countries require you to show your income tax returns for the past few years as part of the visa application process. A Nil ITR is legal proof of your income and financial history, which is crucial for visa approvals.
  • Supports Consistency in Documentation: Showing consistent tax filing, including Nil returns, can positively impact your visa application, especially for countries like the Schengen Area.

Carry-forward of Losses

  • Set Off Future Gains: If you have incurred losses, filing a Nil ITR is necessary to carry those losses to subsequent years. This can be advantageous as these losses can be offset against future gains, reducing your taxable income in future years.
  • Mandatory for Loss Adjustment: If you wish to carry specific losses, such as capital losses, forward, you must file a return even if you have no taxable income for the year.

Due Date for Filing a Nil Income Tax Return

The deadline for filing a Nil Income Tax Return is the 31st of July of the Assessment Year, the same as the due date for filing a regular tax return. If you file a Nil Return after this date, it will be considered a belated return.

It’s important to note that even if you file a Nil Return belatedly, no late filing fees will be imposed, as there is no tax liability. However, adhering to the original deadline is advisable to maintain a consistent record and avoid any potential administrative hassles.

How to File a Nil Income Tax Return

Filing a Nil Income Tax Return (ITR) involves the same steps as filing a regular ITR. Here is a straightforward guide to help you file your nil ITR online:

Preparation: Gather Your Documents

Before you begin the filing process, ensure you have all the necessary documents ready:

  • PAN (Permanent Account Number)
  • Bank Account Details
  • Salary Details (if applicable)
  • Aadhaar Number
  • Form 16 (if you have TDS deducted by your employer)
  • Investment Details (for deductions under sections like 80C, if applicable)

Procedurto Filing Nil ITR Online

The procedure to file Nil ITR is explained in detail below:

  • Visit the Official Income Tax e-filing Website
  • Go to the Income Tax Department’s official e-filing website.
  • Log in using your registered user ID (typically your PAN) and password. You must complete the registration process first if you haven’t already registered.
  • Navigate to the e-Filing Section.
  • Once logged in, click on the ‘e-File’ menu and select the ‘Income Tax Return’ link.
  • Fill in the Income and Deduction Details
  • Select the assessment year for which you are filing the return.
  • Choose the ITR form (e.g., ITR-1, ITR-2, etc.) based on your income sources. For most salaried individuals with no other income, ITR-1 is applicable.

Fill in your income details and any deductions you are claiming. For a nil return, ensure your taxable income after deductions is below the basic exemption limit.

Compute the Income Tax

  • Once you have entered all the relevant information, the system will automatically compute your tax liability.
  • Verify that it shows zero tax due, indicating you have no tax liability.

Submit the Return

  • After checking all the details, submit your ITR.
  • You will be given an option to e-verify your return at this stage.

E-Verify Your Return

  • To complete the e-filing process, e-verify your return using any available method (Aadhaar OTP, Net Banking, Bank Account, Demat Account).
  • Alternatively, you can download the ITR-V (acknowledgement) form, sign it, and send it by post to the Centralized Processing Center (CPC) in Bengaluru within 120 days of e-filing.

Can I file a Nil Return if my income is below the basic exemption limit?

While filing income tax returns is mandatory for individuals whose income exceeds the basic exemption limit, we recommend filing a Nil Return even if your income is below this threshold. Doing so allows you to enjoy the numerous benefits outlined, even though it’s not strictly required.


Filing a Nil Income Tax Return (ITR) is crucial even if your income is below the taxable threshold, as it serves as undeniable proof of income for financial transactions, facilitates refunds of excess TDS, and helps carry forward losses to offset future gains. The process is straightforward and mirrors filing a regular return, with the same deadline of 31st July of the Assessment Year. Maintaining this practice enhances your financial credibility and readiness for various situations, from loan applications to visa processes.

Whether you need to file a regular or a Nil ITR,  IndiaFilings provides expert assistance to ensure your ITR filings are smooth and compliant!

Get Started!