There have been significant changes in the income tax return (ITR) filing rules in the last few years, especially pertaining to the rule for filing belated ITR for the previous years. For FY 2015-16, the rule allowed a person to file the ITR for that year till 31st March 2018, i.e. one year after the end of relevant assessment year.
Under the Finance Act 2017, the government made a big change to the old rule, allowing a person to file the return for FY 2016-17 till 31st March 2018, which otherwise was allowed till 31st March 2019 as per the previous rule. The move is widely seen as a measure to stop tax evasion.
So, the last date as per the new rule to file the tax for FY 2015-16 and FY 2016-17 was 31st March 2018 and if you have failed to adhere with the final deadline, you are left with limited options. Let’s find out what are the options for you now.
The Income Tax Department (ITD) still has the authority to allow the taxpayers to file the return even though the deadline of 31st March 2018 has lapsed. However, the taxpayer must provide a genuine reason for the delay to get the permission to file the return. A taxpayer is allowed to file an application for condonance up to 6 years from the end of actual assessment year to file the return, i.e. for F.Y. 2015-16, the last date would be 31st March 2023.
If you have defaulted in payment of taxes for the relevant year, you should deposit the tax amount u/s 234A (for default in furnishing the return of income), u/s 234B (for default in payment of advance tax) and u/s 234C (for deferment of advance tax).
If you have deposited the tax but missed the last date to file the ITR, then you are not allowed to apply for condonation of delay. However, the I-T department may send you a notice to pay the penalty for delay in filing, which can go up to Rs 5000. In case you are able to present a valid reason for such delay and the IT officer is satisfied with the reason, then penalty can be waived off at his/her discretion.
Things to keep in mind
If you get the permission to file the return after the 31st March 2018 deadline, then you can still get the tax deduction benefits such as Sec 80C benefits, but you won’t be allowed to carry forward the losses and adjust them.
You must not panic if you get a notice from the tax department for non-filing of the previous return for which the last date has passed. You should read the notice properly and reply to it within prescribed timelines or you can take the help of a tax expert to respond properly.
(The writer is CEO at Bankbazaar.com)