Auditors and accountants, especially in lakhs of small firms, across the country are going to burn the midnight oil this Diwali. All thanks to the finance ministry's new diktat making it mandatory for limited companies to file the newly introduced electronic tax return forms by October 31, over 2.5 lakh small firms have less than two weeks to comply with the order.
Electronic filings were made mandatory only on July 24 this year. Subsequently, amendments in the complicated 26-page form were notified in August. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), which was consulted on designing the form, put out its guidance note on the form and fringe benefit tax, a new component in e-forms, only by September. Till last week, the income tax department was tinkering with its software as there were technology-related problems in downloading the form.
Says a senior Mumbai-based CA: "New forms are welcome, but the finance ministry is goofing up again on its delivery. They should do their homework well on the new form before imposing it on millions of tax payers."
Till Friday, October 13, only 1,600 companies, mostly large corporates, had filed their returns. As against this, last year, there were over 3 lakh companies which had completed the process. For all companies to comply with the new rule, an average 25,000 returns will have to be filed each day before the end of the month. Clerks in audit firms have been working without break over last few weeks.