Often, many taxpayers file their tax returns just before the July 31 deadline expires. This year, owing to the heavy rush, the deadline was extended till August 5. But sometime due to last minute rush, people end up committing certain mistakes in their returns. It could be that some income was not reported or reported incorrectly or perhaps the taxpayer even forgot to claim certain deductions, etc. If that is the case, what is the way out?
Scenarios under which modifications are permitted
As per Section 139 (5) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, one can revise tax returns in the following two scenarios. The income tax department has not completed assessment of your tax returns and the mistake in the original return is a genuine one. The timeline stipulated for revision is that it should be made before the end of one year from the assessment year-end. If you wish to make any changes for the current assessment year, i.e., 2017-18, then revisions should be made before March 31, 2019 or before your filings are assessed by the income tax officer, which may generally take three to four months from the time you filed your tax returns.
How to go about it?
Revised tax returns can be done online provided you had filed the original return sonline. If your original returns was filed physically, then you should file the revised returns also physically. There is no specific form to file your revised returns, so you must again refile your returns with the correct numbers online or physically as the case may be. While filing revised tax returns, one needs to mention that it is the revised returns and with details such as e-filing acknowledgement number and date of filing of the original returns. There is no cap on how many times one can revise and re-file tax returns but the latest form will be considered by the tax authorities for assessing your income and levying tax.
Consider the following before revising your return
Though there is no cap on the number of times one can revise the tax returns, multiple filings with large discrepancies each time probably lead to closer scrutiny of your return. One can refile the income tax return only if the mistakes made in the original are unintentional. If you are re-filing the return after the assessing officer of the income tax department has caught your mistakes, it is not valid. If there is a big discrepancy in the income declared in the original and revised returns, then there is a higher probability of being fined for under-reporting your income.
To conclude, if the mistake or omission in your original income tax returns was not intentional or premeditated, then you should make use of the chance provided in the Income Tax Act and re-file the revised returns.
The writer is associate professor of finance & accounting, IIM Shillong