DIGITAL SIGNATURE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What is a Digital Signature?
Answer: 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 digital messages, assuring the recipient of a digital message of both the identity of the sender and the integrity of the message.
A digital signature is issued by a Certification Authority (CA) and is signed with the CA's private key. A digital signature typically contains the: Owner's public key, the Owner's name, Expiration date of the public key, the Name of the issuer (the CA that issued the Digital ID), Serial number of the digital signature, and the digital signature of the issuer. Digital signatures deploy the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology.
If you file electronically using digital signature you do not have to submit a physical copy of the return. Even if you do not have a digital signature, you can still e-File the returns. However, you must also physically submit the printed copy of the filled up Form along with the copy of the Provisional Acknowledgement Number of your e-Return
How legal is a Digital signature?
Answer: India is one of the select band of nations that has the Digital Signature Legislation in place. This Act grants digital signatures that have been issued by a licensed Certifying Authority in India the same status as a physical signature. Digital signatures deploy the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology.
I don’t have a Digital Signature. Does this mean I cannot file online?
Answer: In case you do not have a Digital Signature, you can still e-File the returns. However, you must also physically submit the printed copy of the filled up Form along with the copy of the Provisional Acknowledgement Number of your e-Return.
Where can I get a digital signature?
Answer: The Information Technology Act, 2000 provides for use of Digital Signatures on the documents submitted in electronic form in order to ensure the security and authenticity of the documents filed electronically. Certification Agencies are appointed by the office of the Controller of Certification Agencies (CCA) under the provisions of IT Act, 2000. There are a total of seven Certification Agencies authorised by the CCA to issue the Digital Signature Certificates.
Do I need a fresh digital signature in case I already have one?
Answer: A person/company who already has the specified Digital Signature for any other application can use the same for filings for the Income tax return and is not required to obtain a fresh Digital Signature.
How much does a digital signature cost?
Answer: The Digital Signature certificates are typically issued with one year validity and two year validity. It includes the cost of medium (a UBS token which is a one time cost), the cost of issuance of Digital Signature and the renewal cost after the period of validity. The issuance costs in respect of each Certification Agency vary and are market driven.
UPLOADING WITH DIGITAL SIGNATURE CERTIFICATES: there is no way of affixing the certificate onto the form
Answer: The website allows the assessee to use digital signature as an option. Therefore it is not possible to embed the digital signature feature in the software utility /form. However, the assessee can browse and attach the digital signature at the time of submission of the e-return at his option.
The Web site accepts Digital signature certificates in the formats: .pfx/ .p12. Other formats like .cer are not being accepted. Thus Persons who use USB tokens for securing their signature certificates are unable to use them for E-Filing.
Answer: Digital Signature Certificates in USB tokens are also accepted.
It is not clear what class of Digital signature certificates should be used: Class 1/2/3
Answer: Digital Signature certificate should be of Class 2 or 3 only. It should also be ensured that the Digital certificate should be obtained only from among Certifying Authorities in India.
It is also not clear as to whose Digital signature certificate should be used: Director (as in the case of MCA) / Company (as in the case of DGFT).
Answer: In case the electronic return is being signed digitally using a digital certificate, then the digital certificate should be that of the Authorized Signatory in accordance with the provisions of Section 140 of the IT Act. Therefore, for company returns, the digital certificate should be that of the Managing Director or the Director of the company.