File acknowledgements of tax returns for six assessment years by 31 August 2016 to complete the process
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has given a final opportunity to taxpayers to complete pending tax returns for the previous six assessment years (AYs). In a circular dated 9 May, it was stated that this is being done to regularise certain returns. These could be income tax returns (ITR) that have remained pending because the ITR-V (acknowledgement) was not received. Returns for AYs from 2009-10 to 2014-15, which were uploaded electronically by the taxpayer within the time allowed but have remained incomplete due to non-submission of ITR-V for verification, will also be allowed for verification through an Electronic Verification Code (EVC).
It is mandatory for all the taxpayers who have annual total income of more than Rs.5 lakh or have a refund claim, to e-file their ITR. The next step is to verify using ITR-V. Earlier, there were two options to do this: verification using a digital signature or through a signed form that was sent to tax department’s Centralized Processing Centre (CPC).
Considering that most people do not have a digital signature, from AY 2015-16, e-verification of ITR-V using a one time password (OTP), either through Aadhaar or Internet banking, was introduced. But many people forget to complete the acknowledgement part of the process, which technically means that the return has not been filed.
Pending returns, where tax filers have not submitted their ITR-V within the stipulated time period of 120 days, can now be regularised for the mentioned years. “But the opportunity is only for those who have filed their return within the due time, and their ITR-V is pending. It is not an opportunity to file a belated or revised return,” said Amit Maheshwari, managing director, Ashok Maheshwary & Associates, a chartered accountancy firm.
If you happen to be among the taxpayers whose ITR is pending because of non-submission of ITR-V, you will receive an intimation regarding this from the tax department. You can also find out the status yourself by logging on to the tax department’s website: https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in.
Click on the e-Filing tab and under services, you will find an option ‘ITR-V Receipt Status’. Enter your Permanent Account Number (PAN) and AY or e-Filing Acknowledgement Number. If ITR-V has not been received within the prescribed time, its status will not be displayed, which will mean that you need to take steps to complete the filing process.
You can either complete the verification process through OTP or you can send a signed copy of ITR-V to CPC, latest by 30 August 2016, by speed post.
If there is a pending refund, interest on it will be calculated based on the rules under section 244(A)2 of the Act.
“This section provides for payment of interest on refund due to the taxpayers at the rate of 1.5% per month,” said Suraj Nangia, partner, Nangia & Co. However, “sub-section 2 to section 244A provides that where the reasons for delay in processing of refund is attributable to the taxpayer, such period of delay caused by the assessee shall be excluded while computing the period for which interest in refund is payable,” added Nangia. In other words, if your ITR-V is pending, it will be regarded as your mistake, and interest on due refunds will be calculated only till the date of filing returns.
While the circular states that these returns will be regularised, it also warns taxpayers against not completing the pending ITRs even after this final opportunity. “In case the taxpayer concerned does not get his return regularized by furnishing a valid verification (either EVC or ITR-V) till 31.08.2016, necessary consequences as provided in law for non-filing the return may follow,” it stated.
So, what would be the penalty for still not completing the process for these particular years?
“Consequences of non-filing ITR-V within the time allowed are significant as such a return can be declared ‘Non-Est’ (does not exist) according to the law and the assessee shall face repercussions. For example, under section 271F a penalty Rs.5,000 may be levied. An interest may be levied on pending taxes, and others,” said Nangia.
If you have not filed your ITR-V for any of the six years mentioned above, or if you are not sure of having submitted the acknowledgement, check the status on the tax department’s website and do the needful as early as possible. This is a good opportunity to get your tax filings in order.