In the last seven consecutive assessment years – from AY 2015-16 to AY 2021-22 – the due date of filing Income Tax Return (ITR) – for salaried taxpayers and other non-tax audit cases – has been extended by 5 days to over 5 months due to various reasons.
However, for the first time in the last 8 years, there has been no extension in the ITR due date in this assessment year (AY 2022-23) as there were no apparent reasons to do so, think the experts.
There were expectations of an extension in this year too after an extension by five months and 10 days in AY 2020-21 due to the nationwide lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak and another extension by 5 months in AY 2021-22 under the COVID cloud due to glitches in the newly-launched Income Tax Portal.
Launched during the tax-filing session last year on June 7, 2021, the new e-filing portal had a number of glitches hampering filing of ITRs and other compliances done through the portal for initial months resulting in extensions in the due date of filing returns by up to 5 months. The government had to even give an ultimatum to Infosys to set things right.
In a remarkable turnaround, however, despite heavy loads, the e-filing portal refused to crash – thus crashing the hopes of taxpayers for another extension after 7 consecutive years.
Despite the fact that over 72.42 lakh ITRs were filed on a single day on July 31, 2022, the e-filing portal was up and running.
However, in the last assessment year (AY 2021-22), after extension by another 5 months, the due date was December 31, 2021. So, the gap between last year’s due date and this year’s (AY 2022-23) due date has become just 7 months, instead of the usual 12 months, without any extension beyond July 31, 2022.
So, was there any need to reduce the gap between the due dates of the two successive assessment years gradually?
The tax experts don’t see any merit in the argument of reducing the gap between the due dates of the successive years gradually.
“It would be fair to say that extension was not a necessity this time as many factors contributed towards the smoother e-filing of the tax returns and in fact close to 6 crore returns were filed before the 31 July due date. Some of factors which contributed to the streamlining of the tax filing this time would be that there were no major technical issues in the website, most of the financial details were captured in the Form 26AS as well as the Annual Information Statement (AIS), businesses and their administrative teams are fully operational leading to issuance of Form 16 (salary certificates) within the timelines, fewer restrictions on movements / health issues and return to normalcy as compared to the previous 2 years, etc. Also, it seems that continuous pitch by the government to file the tax return on time, has also played a major role in ensuring timely compliances,” said Dr. Suresh Surana, Founder, RSM India.
Praising the resilience of the e-filing portal, CA Karan Batra, Founder and CEO of CharteredClub.com said, “It was probably the 1st time (or maximum 2nd time) since e-filing started, the Income Tax Portal was up and running without any major issues. It always used to falter on the last day, but this time there was no major issue.”
“Data suggests that most people file only in the last week irrespective of whether extension is given or not. When the majority of the people were able to file ITRs swiftly, was there any need for extension?,” he asked.
“Now that extension has not been given, people can focus on filing ITR with Audit for which the last date is September. If this date of 31st July had been extended, the whole schedule would have gone haywire and people would have started requesting for extension of 30th September deadline as well,” Batra further said.