Finance Act, 2017 was amended in April last year to mandate that a revised return for an earlier year could be furnished only up to the end of the subsequent assessment year and not further.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Monday said that income-tax (IT) e-returns filed in FY18 and the previous few years were inflated as these included returns for not just the assessment year concerned but for substantial number of returns belonging to earlier years as well.
However, Finance Act, 2017 was amended in April last year to mandate that a revised return for an earlier year could be furnished only up to the end of the subsequent assessment year and not further. This meant that in FY19, taxpayers could file returns for that year and a smaller number of returns belonging to the previous year. Due to this, the e-filing numbers recorded in FY19 are not comparable with those filed in FY18, CBDT said in a statement.
However, the fact remains that till FY18, the government used to cite the tax base inclusive of the substantial numbers of revised returns from the previous years and claimed this to be a sign of rapidly expanding tax base. It hasn’t still released the returns data specific to only the respective assessment years.
On its official website, the CBDT has published the e-return filing numbers for any year including revised returns since FY12. Furthermore, even in the annual time-series data published by the board, the e-filing numbers are published in financial year terms, which leaves no scope for determining number of returns filed for in a particular assessment year only. As FE had reported, the e-returns filed in the last fiscal contracted by 1% to 6.68 crore from 6.74 crore in FY18.
The board said that during FY18, out of a total of 6.74 crore returns, 5.47 crore were filed for the same year. In comparison, during FY19, a total of 6.68 crore e-returns were filed included 6.49 crore of that year, marking an annual increase of almost 19%. It said that during FY18, apart from the returns for the AY17-18, nearly 1.21 crore ITRs were filed for AY16-17.