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1. Who can use the ITD's offline utilities to file returns?
All persons eligible to file ITR can download the offline utilities for ITRs and use them to file returns.  

2. What is new about the ITD's offline utility in AY 2021-22 for ITRs?

  • For AY 2021-22 onwards, XML is no more the file format for pre-filled data or the utility-generated file for upload, it is now in JSON format.
  • Users can either directly Download their pre-filled data into the offline utility, or Import the pre-filled data from the JSON downloaded on their computer from the e-Filing portal. Previously, there was only one way to import the pre-filled XML.
  • There is a new feature introduced in the offline utility - Import Draft ITR filled in online mode. You can use this option in case you have already partially filled your return  in online mode (currently applicable to ITR-1 and ITR-4), and wish to change the mode of filing from online to offline.
  • Before AY 2021-22, users had to generate an XML of their prepared return and upload it to the e-Filing portal for submission. With the new offline utility, users can directly submit and verify their returns / forms from the utility itself. Users still have the option to generate a JSON and upload it on the e-Filing portal to submit their return.

3. What is meant by multiple import options when using the ITD's offline utility?
You have multiple options to import the JSON with your pre-filled data for Income Tax Returns:

  • Download Pre-filled Return – Based on your PAN and AY you entered, your pre-filled data gets downloaded into your ITR form.
  • Import Pre-filled JSON – Attach the already downloaded JSON into the offline utility, and your pre-filled data gets downloaded into your ITR form.

4. I filled most of my return in online mode, but I want to switch to offline mode. Is there a way to migrate my data to the offline utility?
Yes. You can use the Import Draft ITR filled in online mode option in case you have already partially filled your return in online mode, and wish to change the mode of filing from online to offline. This is applicable to ITRs available in online mode, currently ITR-1 and ITR-4.

5. How do I know if I made mistakes in my ITR when filing them using the offline utility?
All the validation rules applicable for online forms will be applicable whether you submit them on the portal or directly from the offline utility. In case of any mistake, you will get an error message from the system, and the fields which have errors will be highlighted in the form. If you export and upload your JSON file, a downloadable error file will be generated, which you can refer to for correcting mistakes. 

6. What user ID should be provided when prompted for login on the offline utility?
Different types of users need different user IDs when prompted for login. Individual and non-individual taxpayers need to use PAN as their user ID. Chartered Accountants (CAs) need to use ARCA + 6-digit membership number as their user ID. Tax Deductors & Collectors need to use TAN as their user ID.

7. What is a JSON file? 
JSON is a file format that is used when downloading / importing your pre-filled return data into the offline utility, and is also used when generating your prepared ITR in the offline utility.

8. What is the advantage of having JSON as a file  format being used in the offline utility?
JSON as a file format has several technical advantages as compared to XML files. It is a lightweight format for storing and transporting data. Also, it is processed faster than XML files.